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Liberty Holds Off KSU 91-86 in ASUN Quarterfinal Shootout

March 7, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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 Postgame Press Conference

If Saturday afternoon's ASUN Women's Basketball Championship quarterfinal matchup between No. 3 seed Liberty and No. 6 seed Kennesaw State was the final women's game in Vines Center history, the venue went out with a bang. Liberty held off the Owls and Amani Johnson's record-setting 45-point outburst, 91-86, to advance to the semifinal round for the second straight year.

Liberty (19-11) shot 55.6 percent (30-of-54) and scored a season-high 91 points to defeat the Owls for the third time this season, including the second in six days. The Lady Flames were keyed by the duo of Emily Lytle (career-high 29 points, nine rebounds) and Asia Todd (20 points, 4-of-5 3FG).

Winners of a season-high seven games in a row, Liberty will now face No. 2 seed North Alabama (21-8) in the semifinal round Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern inside Flowers Hall in Florence, Ala.

Kennesaw State's season ends at 13-16 despite Johnson breaking the ASUN Championship, Vines Center and Liberty opponent records for most points in a game. The Owls posted the highest field goal percentage by a Liberty opponent this season (52.5 percent, 31-of-59) but became the first ASUN team the Lady Flames have ever defeated three times within the same season.

Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Emily Lytle – 29 points, 9 rebounds, 7-8 FG, 3-4 3FG, 12-16 FT; Asia Todd – 20 points, 4-5 3FG; Keyen Green – 16 points; Ashtyn Baker – 8 points, 7 assists.

Kennesaw State Individuals: Amani Johnson – 45 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 16-28 FG, 4-6 3FG, 9-10 FT; Alexis Poole – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks.

Key Team Stats: Both teams shot well from beyond the three-point arc, including 57.1 percent (8-of-14) for Liberty and 60 percent (6-of-10) for Kennesaw State. Liberty got to the foul line 14 more times than the Owls, converting at a 65.7 percent clip (23-of-35). Both the free throws made and attempted totals set new season highs for the Lady Flames. Liberty outrebounded its 10th straight opponent, 31-30.

Turning Point
Liberty used a 12-2 run midway through the second quarter to build its largest lead of the game (42-26), 2:54 before halftime. Lytle scored eight of the Lady Flames' points during the run, including a three-pointer to close it out.

Kennesaw State was forced to play catchup for the remainder of the contest and could never regain the lead.

Game Summary
First Quarter
• After scoring 11 fourth quarter points during Monday's victory at Kennesaw State, Asia Todd went for 11 more during a high-scoring first quarter on Saturday. Liberty emerged with a 26-20 advantage through 10 minutes of play.

Second Quarter
• Kennesaw State trimmed its deficit from the aforementioned 16 to a dozen points (46-34) at the intermission, thanks in large part to a huge opening half (20 points, 5 assists) by Amani Johnson.

Third Quarter
• Keyen Green, who scored only three points in five minutes of first-half playing time, exploded for 11 third-quarter points. However, fellow first team all-conference post player Alexis Poole notched 10 points of her own for KSU.

• The Lady Flames were outscored by one (21-20) during the third period despite shooting 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from the field. Their advantage stood at 11 points (66-55) heading to the fourth.

Fourth Quarter
• Johnson finished her record-breaking outing with a 17-point fourth quarter, helping the Owls pull within three twice within the final minute (87-84 and 89-86). Both times, Lytle answered with a pair of made free throws to keep Liberty on top. Lytle posted 13 points of her own during the final 10 minutes, nailing a pair of triples and hitting seven of her eight foul shots.  

Notes and Nuggets
• Lytle's 29 points eclipsed her previous career high of 26 set Jan. 26, 2019 at Jacksonville. She is now averaging 18.5 ppg in four career ASUN Championship outings.

• After tallying a career-high 24 points during Monday's 76-70 victory at Kennesaw State, Todd made it back-to-back 20-point outings and hit a career-high four triples. Todd is the first Liberty freshman with consecutive 20-point games since Devon Brown on March 14 & 20, 2010.

• Green posted 13 of her 16 points after halftime.

• Baker saw her career-long streak of five straight games scoring in double figures halted. However, she equaled her career high of seven assists and has now dished out 38 helpers during the team's current seven-game winning streak.

• Audrey Clark delivered a career-high five assists for the Lady Flames.

• Bridgette Rettstatt's eight rebounds off the bench give the junior 504 for her career, making her the 30th Lady Flame with 500 career boards.

• Liberty's 91 points were the most the Lady Flames have ever scored in any conference tournament game, eclipsing the 89 points they tallied to win the 1997 Big South Championship title game over UNCG at the Vines Center for their first-ever Big South title.  

• The Lady Flames, who shot above 50 percent from the field during all three victories over KSU this season, improve to 6-0 in 2019-20 and 124-2 under Carey Green when hitting at least half of their field goal attempts.  

• Liberty's seven-game winning streak is its longest since an eight-game streak which culminated with a victory in the 2018 Big South Championship title game.

• Saturday marked the Lady Flames' fifth straight home win, boosting their Vines Center record to 8-5 this season, 237-47 under Carey Green and 308-83 all-time. Liberty is now 23-1 all-time in conference tournament games at the Vines Center.

• Liberty has now advanced to the semifinal round of its conference tournament for three straight seasons and in 23 of the last 24 seasons overall.

• Carey Green improved to 50-6 all-time when coaching in conference tournament games and picked up win No. 475 of his 21-year career with the Lady Flames.  

Up Next
Liberty will now travel to Florence, Ala., for the ASUN Women's Basketball Championship semifinals. The Lady Flames will play at No. 2 seed North Alabama (21-8) Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern inside Flowers Hall with a spot in the championship game on the line.

The Lions defeated Liberty twice during the regular season. Their 86-75 home win over the Lady Flames on Feb. 8 was the last contest before Liberty's current seven-game winning streak.

North Alabama advanced to its first ASUN semifinal with a 70-60 home triumph over No. 7 seed Stetson, Saturday afternoon.

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Location: Florence, Ala. (Flowers Hall)
TV: ESPN+
Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg)
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Eastern