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Liberty Reaches Navy Classic Title Game

November 20, 2009  Annapolis, Md.  RSS
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Junior Dymond Morgan scored a season-high nine points during Liberty's 63-52 win over Tulane.

Junior Dymond Morgan scored a season-high nine points during Liberty's 63-52 win over Tulane.

A 24-2 first-half run gave Liberty a lead it never relinquished, and the Lady Flames went on to win Friday's opening game of the Navy Classic, 63-52 over Tulane. Liberty's third straight double-digit victory to open the 2009-10 season earns the Lady Flames a berth in Saturday evening's tournament championship game at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md.

Devon Brown's first career double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) helped Liberty start the season at 3-0 for the first time since 2006-07. Rebounding also keyed the Lady Flames' win in their first-ever matchup with Tulane, with Liberty outrebounding the Green Wave, 38-22.

Tulane, which had scored 86 points in its season-opening victory, was limited to 52 tallies on Friday. The Green Wave are 1-1 on the young season, after shooting just 41.7 percent (20-of-48) from the floor and committing 22 turnovers.

After Tulane's Brittany Lindsey scored the game's first hoop on a lob play, the Green Wave only managed two points over the next 12:46. During that time, Liberty outscored green-uniformed Tulane, 24-2. Rachel McLeod scored six points during the extended surge, including a pair of free throws at 7:12 which gave the Lady Flames a 24-4 advantage.

The Green Wave then began to chip away at their deficit. A 10-3 surge, capped off by Chassity Brown's triple from the top of the key, brought Tulane to within 30-19, 10 seconds before the intermission.

LaKendra Washington connected on a driving layup as the buzzer sounded, pushing Liberty's halftime lead to 13 points, at 32-19.

The Lady Flames continued their strong play at the defensive end during the first 20 minutes, limiting Tulane to 34.8 percent (8-of-23) field goal shooting and forcing 14 turnovers. Meanwhile, Liberty shot 50 percent (13-of-26) from the floor and converted the Green Wave's miscues into 15 points.

A majority of Liberty's first-half scoring came from the backcourt, with Amber Mays' eight points leading all players. McLeod chipped in with seven points, while Brown added six points and a matching number of boards. Brown's work on the glass helped Liberty win the opening-half rebounding battle, 18-15.

Chassity Brown led Tulane in both points (7) and assists (4) during the first 20 minutes of play. Teammates Lindsey and Roshaunda Barnes pulled down three caroms apiece.

Two triples by Indira Kaljo during the first three minutes of the second period helped Tulane cut the Lady Flames' lead to 36-27.

Brown then notched the last 10 points of Liberty's ensuing 12-1 run, including a 25-foot three-pointer from the right wing as the shot clock expired with 12:44 remaining on the second-half clock. The Waynesboro, Va., native's long-distance connection bolstered the Lady Flames' advantage back up to 48-28.

Tulane was not done yet, as two more Kaljo trifectas bookended an 8-0 burst. Her three-pointer at 10:48 made the score 48-36, Liberty.

The Lady Flames quickly pushed the lead back to 16, 52-36, on baskets by Dymond Morgan and Brown within 42 seconds following Kaljo's triple.

The Green Wave cut their deficit to single digits one last time, at 61-52, when Lindsey canned a layup with 1:54 left. However, those were Tulane's final points of the afternoon and Mays sealed Liberty's 63-52 triumph with a pair of free throws in the last minute of play.

Tulane was able to chip into Liberty's lead during the final 20 minutes by sinking six three-pointers. However, the Lady Flames controlled the action in the painted area, winning the second-half rebounding battle by a 20-7 count.

For the game, Liberty shot over 50 percent from the field for the first time this season, sinking 24 of 47 field goals (51.1 percent). An active Lady Flames defense also came up with 11 steals and scored 23 points off Tulane's turnovers.

Brown led all players in both points and rebounds and also canned three triples. Avery Warley nearly fashioned a double-double of her own, finishing with nine points and 11 boards for the Lady Flames.

Mays reached double digits for the second consecutive contest, notching 10 points, a team-high three assists and a game-high four steals. The Lady Flames' lone senior has now totaled a dozen steals during the season's first three contests.

Liberty guards McLeod and Morgan each contributed nine points, which set a new season high for both players.

Three Green Wave players scored in double figures, paced by Brown's 13 points. Kaljo added 12 points on four triples, while Lindsey posted 11 points and five caroms.

Liberty will meet host Navy (4-0) in the Navy Classic championship game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Hall, as the Lady Flames seek their fourth regular-season tournament championship in the last three seasons.