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Liberty Tops North Alabama 90-87 in OT to Advance to ASUN Title Game

March 11, 2020  Florence, Ala.  RSS
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Emily Lytle scored a game-high 22 points on Wednesday, including five during the Lady Flames' 9-2 run to end the game.

Emily Lytle scored a game-high 22 points on Wednesday, including five during the Lady Flames' 9-2 run to end the game.

No. 2 seed North Alabama erased a 17-point second-half deficit to force overtime and then led by four during the extra session of Wednesday's ASUN Women's Basketball Championship semifinal at Flowers Hall. No. 3 seed Liberty then got the last laugh, closing the contest with a 9-2 run to pull out a 90-87 overtime victory and advance to the ASUN title game for the second straight year.

Emily Lytle scored a game-high 22 points for Liberty (20-11), including the go-ahead three-point play with 35.6 seconds remaining and two crucial free throws at the 13.6-second mark. After recording their eighth straight win, the Lady Flames will travel to No. 1 seed FGCU (30-3) for Sunday's title game at 3 p.m. at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. The nationally No. 24-ranked Eagles topped No. 5 seed North Florida 73-57 in Wednesday's other semifinal.

North Alabama (21-9), which had defeated Liberty twice during the regular season, with one of the victories coming in overtime, missed five of its last six field goals after taking an 85-81 lead with 1:40 to play in the extra session. The Lions had forced overtime with a Jaida Bond layup with 20.8 seconds remaining in regulation, completing a furious rally from a 63-46 deficit with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Emily Lytle – 22 points, 3-6 3FG, 7-7 FT; Asia Todd – 16 points; Audrey Clark – 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3-5 3FG; Ashtyn Baker – 13 points, 4 assists, 3-3 3FG; Mya McMillian – 11 points; Keyen Green – 8 points, 13 rebounds.

North Alabama Individuals: Jaida Bond – 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3-4 3FG; Olivia Noah – 17 points, 4-5 3FG; Ivy Wallen – 15 points, 6 assists; Ansley Eubank – 11 points, 6 rebounds.

Key Team Stats: Both teams made 11 three-pointers on the night. Liberty's season-high 11 triples came on just 18 attempts for 61.1 percent. The Lions were 11-of-27 from beyond the arc for 40.7 percent. Liberty outrebounded North Alabama, 41-30, and turned 17 offensive boards into 15 second-chance points. North Alabama got more than half of its points (44 of 87) off the bench.

Turning Point
Ivy Wallen's layup with 1:40 remaining in overtime gave North Alabama its largest lead of the game (85-81).

Liberty then scored on its last four trips to the offensive end to pull out the victory:

1:22 – Asia Todd's layup makes it 85-83, North Alabama
35.6 – Emily Lytle's 3-point play makes it 86-85, Liberty
29.5 – Audrey Clark's two free throws make it 88-85, Liberty
13.6 – Emily Lytle's two free throws make it 90-87, Liberty

Todd then grabbed a key defensive rebound off a Wallen missed shot with 0.3 remaining to seal the victory.

Game Summary
First Quarter
• The Lady Flames scorched the nets during the opening quarter, shooting 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the field and 83.3 percent (5-of-6) from long distance. Emily Lytle and Mya McMillian scored eight points apiece as Liberty opened a 29-16 advantage over the first 10 minutes of play.

Second Quarter
• Liberty cooled off during the second quarter, as North Alabama made more three-pointers (3) than the Lady Flames did field goals (2-of-11 for 18.2 percent). The host Lions got as close as three (37-34) before going into halftime with a 42-37 deficit.

• Both of Liberty's made field goals during the second period were of the three-point variety, as the Lady Flames finished the first half at 87.5 percent (7-of-8) from beyond the arc.

Third Quarter
• Asia Todd tallied eight third-quarter points, helping Liberty take a 17-point lead (63-46) with 1:58 remaining in the period. North Alabama then finished the stanza with a 6-0 burst, cutting its deficit to 63-52 heading to the fourth.

Fourth Quarter
• Liberty still led by seven (76-69) with 2:29 left in regulation. But the Lions battled back and tied the game on a Jaida Bond layup with 20.8 seconds to play. For the second time this season, the two teams headed to overtime, deadlocked at 78-78.

• North Alabama successfully erased its 11-point deficit entering the final period by shooting 77.8 percent (7-of-9) from the field and 84.6 percent (11-of-13) from the foul line.

• Ivy Wallen scored six of North Alabama's nine overtime points, while Emily Lytle countered with five for Liberty.

• Liberty shot 8-of-11 from the foul line during OT, making its last six in a row, while the Lions failed to shoot a free throw during the session.

Notes and Nuggets
• Lytle has now opened the 2020 ASUN Championship with back-to-back 20-point games after tallying a career-high 29 points during Saturday's quarterfinal victory over Kennesaw State. She is averaging 19.2 ppg and 3.0 three-pointers/game during five career ASUN Championship outings.

• Todd's 16 points give the freshman an average of 20.0 ppg over the last three games.

• Clark played a team-high 39:44, setting career highs for points (14), rebounds (7), three-pointers (3) and free throws made (3). Clark's previous career high of 11 points had come during Liberty's first overtime contest against North Alabama this season (Jan. 13).

• Baker scored in double figures for the sixth time in the last seven games and is averaging 5.3 apg over the Lady Flames' eight-game winning streak.

• Green's game-high 13 rebounds moved her into 10th place in program history with 673 career boards.

• Liberty's 90 points were the second most they have ever scored in a conference tournament game, trailing only their 91 points during Saturday's 91-86 quarterfinal victory over Kennesaw State at the Vines Center.

• The Lady Flames' 11 three-pointers set a new season high and were one shy of the program single-game record.

• Liberty has connected on 173 triples this season. The program single-season record is 175, set in 2013-14.

• Liberty has now outrebounded 11 consecutive opponents.

• The Lady Flames improved to 2-1 in overtime games this season, including 1-1 against North Alabama. The Lions topped Liberty 76-71 in OT on Jan. 13 at the Vines Center.

• Liberty has reached its conference tournament championship game for three straight seasons and 21 of the last 24 years.

• The Lady Flames have won eight straight games since their Feb. 8 setback at North Alabama, their longest winning streak since an eight-game streak which culminated in the 2018 Big South Championship title game victory over UNC Asheville.

• Liberty, which won its fourth consecutive road game, won its first true road game in a conference tournament since 2012 and became the ASUN's first No. 3 seed to win a semifinal on the No. 2 seed's home court since 2015.

• Carey Green improved to 51-6 all-time in conference tournament games, and the Lady Flames moved to 9-0 all-time when playing on March 11.

• Liberty has now won 20 or more games in 20 of the last 24 seasons.

Up Next
For the second straight season, No. 3 seed Liberty will travel to Fort Myers, Fla., for the ASUN Women's Basketball Championship title game at No. 1 seed FGCU (30-3). Tipoff is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. inside Alico Arena.

FGCU defeated the Lady Flames 72-49 during last season's championship game. The Eagles beat Liberty twice during the regular season, prevailing 64-57 in Fort Myers on Jan. 6 and 74-65 in Lynchburg on Feb. 1.

This will mark the first time the same two teams have squared off in the ASUN Women's Basketball Championship title game in back-to-back seasons since FGCU and Stetson squared off three straight years (2012-14).

Date: Sunday, March 15, 2020
Location: Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena)
Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg)
Tipoff: 3 p.m.