Liberty rolled to a 95-57 victory at Charleston Southern on Saturday.
Liberty surged to an early 27-2 lead on the way to a dominating 95-57 victory at Charleston Southern, Saturday afternoon at the Buc Dome.
Eleven different Lady Flames entered the scoring column, paced by Ashtyn Baker with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. In addition to Baker, three other players scored in double figures, including Keyen Green (15 points, seven rebounds), Ola Makurat (14 points, 9-of-10 free throw shooting) and KK Barbour (13 points, six rebounds).
Liberty (19-9) completes the season sweep of the Buccaneers and remains in first place in the conference at 14-2, a game ahead of the Radford Highlanders (20-7, 13-3 BSC). Meanwhile, Charleston Southern falls to 10-17 overall and 5-11 in the Big South.
The Lady Flames dominated in the rebounding department (39-23) and assisted on 20 of their 35 field goals. Liberty, who leads the Big South in field goal percentage, shot above 50 percent for the eighth time this season (35-of-61, 57.4 percent). CSU shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the floor and committed 20 turnovers.
The victory marked Liberty's highest point total in a Big South game and biggest margin of victory (38) in conference play this season, surpassing the previous best of 26 (63-37 win) set against Winthrop on Jan. 9.
The Lady Flames opened the game on a 27-2 run and forced 10 CSU turnovers during the first 10 minutes to seize control. The Liberty defense stifled CSU in the opening three-plus minutes, forcing four turnovers before the Buccaneers even attempted a shot. A jumper and three-pointer by Barbour provided the visitors a 7-0 edge at the 7:22 mark.
Following a basket from CSU's Wekyne Dumorne, Liberty went on a 20-0 run. The catalyst for the early part of it was Tatyana Crowder. The junior assisted on two Green baskets, recorded two steals and scored a layup, all in a one-minute stretch. Crowder's layup extended the Lady Flames' lead to 14-2 with 5:20 left.
A three-pointer from Makurat with 58 seconds to play in the quarter brought the score to 27-2. Triples from Buccaneers Shelby Wilbanks (team-high 16 points) and Ke'Asia Jackson made it 27-8 at the end of one.
Liberty continued to build onto its lead in the second quarter, fueled by strong offensive rebounding. The Lady Flames, who grabbed 15 offensive boards in the contest, grabbed four in the first 5:20 of the second quarter. Guard Nene Johnson pulled down the final one in that stretch over two CSU defenders, laying the ball in for a 39-14 Liberty advantage with 4:37 left in the half.
The Lady Flames drilled eight three-pointers on the afternoon, two of which came in the final three minutes of the first half. Liberty's top three-point shooter Lela Sellers (eight points) knocked home a three to make it 42-14 with 2:54 left. Following a layup from CSU's Rachel Burns with six seconds left in the half, Baker banked in a running three-pointer at the buzzer, bringing the Liberty lead to 27, 45-18, at intermission.
The Lady Flames shot 57.6 percent (19-of-33) in the opening half while forcing 13 CSU turnovers. Green (11 points), Barbour (nine points) and Baker (nine points) paced the Liberty attack in the first half. The Buccaneers' Jackson supplied the home side with seven points in the first 20 minutes of play. CSU shot 38.1 percent (8-of-21).
Charleston Southern's Wilbanks trimmed the deficit to 25 (56-31) in the third period with back-to-back baskets, the second of which was a three-point play at the 4:39 mark. Liberty responded with a 7-0 run, featuring a pair of free throws from Molly Reagan, a three by Sellers and a layup by Johnson. Johnson's bucket bumped the visitors' lead to 63-31 with 2:04 remaining in the third. Liberty led, 65-36, after three periods.
The Lady Flames matched a season high with 30 points in the fourth quarter, which they also accomplished on Tuesday at Winthrop. Seven different Liberty players scored in the final period, paced by Makurat (nine points, 7-of-8 foul shooting). Sheana Vega scored five points on 2-of-2 shooting, and the Lady Flames dished out nine assists in the final frame.
CSU's Njeri Nelms (11 points) and Rachel Burns (10 points) also reached double figures for the hosts.
Up Next Liberty will begin the final week of the regular season on Tuesday at Longwood (6-21, 4-12 Big South). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center. The Lady Flames have won the last 18 matchups against the Lancers, including a 63-51 road victory in Farmville, Va. on Jan. 23.
If Liberty is victorious Tuesday, the Lady Flames will record win No. 20 of the 2017-18 season and at least a share of the Big South regular-season championship.
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