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Baker Leads Liberty Past Norfolk State in 2019-20 Opener

November 5, 2019  Norfolk, Va.  RSS
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Ashtyn Baker hit a career-high five triples during a 19-point outing on Tuesday.

Ashtyn Baker hit a career-high five triples during a 19-point outing on Tuesday.

Liberty's Ashtyn Baker (game-high 19 points, career-high five three-pointers) enjoyed the best shooting night of her career during Tuesday evening's 2019-20 season opener at Norfolk State. Her effort, coupled with a strong defense down the stretch, propelled the Lady Flames to a 67-48 victory over the Spartans inside Echols Hall.

Norfolk State (0-1) trailed by just five points (47-42) during the final minute of the third quarter but missed 14 of its 15 field goal attempts in the final period. As a result, Liberty (1-0) was able to break the game open with a 14-1 run and avenge a 66-53 setback to the Spartans from last season.

Box Score Highlights
Other Liberty Individuals: Emily Lytle – 12 points, 6 rebounds; Bridgette Rettstatt – 10 points, 9 rebounds; Keyen Green – 9 points, 11 rebounds; Ria Gulley – 9 assists, 1 turnover in 36 minutes

Norfolk State Individuals: Chanette Hicks – 18 points, 4 assists; La'Deja James – 9 points

Key Team Stats: Liberty shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the field and nailed eight triples. Norfolk State struggled shooting the basketball from the field (18-of-58, 31 percent), three-point range (1-of-13, 7.7 percent) and foul line (40.7 percent, 11-of-27). The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle (48-34), aided by a 19-7 advantage during the fourth quarter.

Turning Point
After Armani Franklin's layup with 1:24 left in the third quarter capped off a 7-0 Norfolk State run and cut the Spartans' deficit to 47-42, Kierra Johnson-Graham slowed the Spartans' momentum with a pair of free throws on Liberty's ensuing possession.

The Lady Flames then put the game away with a 12-1 run to begin the fourth quarter, holding the home team without a made field goal until only 2:48 remained in the contest.

Game Summary
First Quarter
• Liberty hit three triples within the game's first 5:17, including a pair by Ashtyn Baker, to take control early on.

• Norfolk State did not make a field goal during the period's final 4:26 and shot just one-of-seven from the foul line as the Lady Flames led 17-11 through 10 minutes of play.

Second Quarter
• Keyen Green's two hoops during the opening minute of the second stanza lifted the red-clad Lady Flames to their first double-digit lead (21-11) of the evening.

• Virginia Tech transfer Chanette Hicks scored seven of her 13 first-half points during the period, helping the Spartans get as close as three (26-23).

• Baker answered with a pair of three-pointers, giving her four for the opening half, and Liberty's lead reached 11 (37-26) at the intermission.

Third Quarter
• The Lady Flames' advantage got as large as 13 points (45-32) on Ria Gulley's triple from the left wing at the 7:02 mark.

• Norfolk State later fashioned the aforementioned 7-0 run and trailed 49-42 entering the final 10 minutes.

Fourth Quarter
• Liberty received strong post play during the final quarter, outscoring the Spartans inside the paint, 10-0.

• Posts Bridgette Rettstatt (5 points, 4 rebounds), Green (5 rebounds) and Kierra Johnson-Graham (4 points) all stepped up in the fourth.

Notes and Nuggets
• Liberty opened a season with a victory in Norfolk for the second time in three years. The Lady Flames also tipped off the 2017-18 campaign with a triumph at Old Dominion.

• The Lady Flames improve to 8-1 all-time against Norfolk State, including 4-0 in Norfolk.

• Ashtyn Baker more than doubled her previous career high of two three-pointers and finished just one point off her career high of 20. Last season, Baker did not make her fifth triple of the season until her 12th contest.

• After tying Liberty's single-season record with 64 three-pointers last season, Emily Lytle hit a pair of triples during Tuesday's 12-point effort.

• Keyen Green made a successful return to the court after missing the entire 2018-19 season due to an ankle injury. Playing for the first time in 599 days, Green started and tallied 14 minutes, finishing one point shy of a double-double (9 points, game-high 11 rebounds.)

• Ria Gulley dished out a game-high nine assists, eclipsing her previous career high of eight.

• Kierra Johnson-Graham extended her streak to 16 consecutive made free throws before misfiring during the fourth quarter.

• Nov. 5 marks the earliest date in the calendar year Liberty has ever tipped off a season.

Up Next
Liberty will tip off its 30th and final season at the Vines Center on Friday, playing host to ETSU (0-1) at 5 p.m. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Liberty men's basketball team, as the Flames will square off against Radford at 7 p.m.

Date: Friday, November 8, 2019
Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Vines Center)
TV: ESPN+
Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg)
Tipoff: 5 p.m.