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Liberty Runs Past Blue Hose, 73-27

January 16, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Rachel McLeod scores two of her season-high 11 points during the Lady Flames' 73-27 victory over Presbyterian College.

Rachel McLeod scores two of her season-high 11 points during the Lady Flames' 73-27 victory over Presbyterian College.

A pair of 15-0 first-half runs by Liberty set the tone for Saturday afternoon's Big South contest against Presbyterian College. The Lady Flames went on to claim a 73-27 victory over the Blue Hose, extending their winning streak to four games.

An active, aggressive defense keyed the Liberty victory, as a season-high 19 steals led to 39 points off turnovers. The Lady Flames improve to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in Big South action. Liberty, now 4-0 during its current homestand, has won 41 straight January home tilts.

Meanwhile, the Blue Hose remain winless in 12 games away from Clinton, S.C., after shooting just 27.8 percent (10-of-36) from the field. Presbyterian College drops to 2-13 overall and 1-2 in the Big South.

Liberty roared out of the gates, opening the matinee with a Devon Brown three-pointer and an Amber Mays coast-to-coast layup during the first minute of play. Their baskets started a 15-0 game-opening run by the Lady Flames, which included a trio of triples by Brown.

Presbyterian College did not score its first points until the 14:02 mark, when Mariah Pietrowski banked in a layup from the right block. Another hoop by Pietrowski, five minutes later, finished off a 6-2 surge by the Blue Hose, cutting Liberty's advantage to 11 points (17-6).

The Blue Hose were still within 11, before another 15-0 run by the white-clad Lady Flames. Five Liberty steals highlighted the extended surge, including one by Rachel McLeod, which the junior converted into a layup, 2:01 before halftime.

McLeod's two points gave Liberty a 26-point lead, 34-8, and the Lady Flames took that same margin into the locker room at halftime. Liberty owned a 36-10 edge at the break, after holding the Blue Hose to the fewest points in a half by a Lady Flames opponent since Nov. 16, 2007. That contest saw Liberty limit Columbia Union to eight first-half tallies.

The Lady Flames shot 65.2 percent (15-of-23) in the first half, after using an aggressive defense to create numerous easy scoring opportunities. Liberty converted 18 Presbyterian College turnovers into 21 points during the opening 20 minutes. The Lady Flames also scored 20 points in the paint, including a dozen fast break points.

Meanwhile, the Blue Hose hit just 29.4 percent (5-of-17) of their field goal attempts, misfiring on all nine of their tries from beyond the three-point arc.

Liberty owned a 14-8 edge in rebounds during the opening period, paced by three rebounds apiece by Brown and McLeod.

The same guard duo led the Lady Flames' offensive attack as well, with Brown scoring 11 first-half points and McLeod adding eight. Mays distributed four of Liberty's nine assists, while Jelena Antic came up with three of her team's 10 steals.

Pietrowski was the leading Presbyterian College scorer prior to intermission, finishing with four points. Amanda Mills had a trio of assists, while Kristen Stevens came up with three steals for the Blue Hose.

Liberty extended its advantage to 45-12, after beginning the second half with a 9-2 burst. McLeod's three-pointer with 16:33 remaining in the contest punctuated the run.

Devin Fothergill drilled a three-pointer from right in front of her team's bench at the 14:18 mark, making the score 47-19, Lady Flames. That was as close as Presbyterian College would get the rest of the way though.

Liberty's advantage reached 49 points, before the Lady Flames sealed their fifth 30-point win of the season, 73-27.

Not to be overshadowed by their effort on the defensive half of the court, the Lady Flames crafted an efficient offensive performance. Liberty shot a season-high 64.4 percent (29-of-45) from the floor, matching a season high with five triples. The Lady Flames totaled 38 points in the paint and 18 fast break points on the afternoon.

The nation's No. 1-ranked team for rebounding margin, Liberty also outrebounded Presbyterian College by a 32-18 count.

Reigning Big South Freshman of the Week Jelena Antic paced three Lady Flames who scored in double figures, with 14 points. She connected on all seven of her field goals in the game and has now made 10 consecutive shots from the field, dating back to Tuesday's win over Longwood.

Brown finished with 13 points and shared the team lead with five boards, while McLeod added a season-high 11 tallies.

Danika Dale equaled Brown's five rebounds, and Mays dished out a game-high six assists. Mays' fellow point guard Dymond Morgan chipped in four assists and led all players with five steals.

Pietrowski's six points led all Blue Hose scorers, while Shonda Burnside and Chelsea Wright each corralled three rebounds. Mills finished with five assists, and Stevens had four of her team's 10 steals.

The Lady Flames will wrap up their five-game homestand Monday at 7 p.m., with a Big South tilt versus UNC Asheville. The Bulldogs were the last Big South squad to defeat Liberty at the Vines Center, on Feb. 24, 2007. Since then, the Lady Flames have won 16 consecutive home conference games.

Meanwhile, the Blue Hose will conclude their Commonwealth swing Monday at 7 p.m., when they square off with Radford at the Dedmon Center.