Time for titles

Lady Flames fight back to burn Campbell

AGGRESSION — Freshman guard Kierra Johnson-Graham made a move past a defender and attacked the basket. PHOTO PROVIDED: Michela Diddle

AGGRESSION — Freshman guard Kierra Johnson-Graham made a move past a defender and attacked the basket.
PHOTO PROVIDED: Michela Diddle

The Liberty University women’s basketball team (13-16, 12-6) beat Campbell (21-8, 13-5) with a score of 57-47 Saturday, March 4 in an aggressive second-half effort to propel them into the Big South Conference tournament.

The final regular-season game was senior night for Liberty’s Audrey Rettstatt, the team’s lone senior.

She played a total of 27 minutes and scored five points with four rebounds.

“Today is another reminder of how much I have been blessed over these past four years,” Rettstatt said.

“Especially winning on senior day — you can’t ask for much more.”

Rettstatt was key in the game as she scored a basket with 3:26 left in the final quarter to give Liberty its first lead which was maintained for the
remainder of the game.

“She’s such a humble person,” freshman Keyen Green said of Rettstatt.

“Nothing is of her doing because she always reflects it away from her. It’s so humbling to look at her and admire her through these games. It’s great that she’s our role model.”

The Camels held the lead for most of the game due to turnovers by Liberty in the first half.

The Lady Flames turned the ball over 11 times in the first two quarters.

“It’s hard to deny that they didn’t win each quarter,” Head Coach Carey Green said of Campbell.

“They typically beat us in every small category — rebounds, free-throws and turnovers. They outplayed us.”

Keyen Green committed two fouls in the first quarter, one of them flagrant, causing her to sit out for the rest of the first and second quarters.

Even though she only played four minutes, she scored four points.

“Keyen is a hungry lion,” Coach Green said.

“She wants to stay aggressive. The flagrant foul doesn’t bother me because I know her heart, and it was legit. They reviewed it. She was just trying to protect what was hers, which was the ball.”

Other than Keyen Green being aggressive on defense, the rest of the team did not display that same momentum in the first half, according to both Coach Green and Rettstatt.

TAKE — Audrey Rettstatt drove inside to the basket against a Campbell defender. Photo Provided: Michela Diddle

TAKE — Audrey Rettstatt drove inside to the basket against a Campbell defender.
Photo Provided: Michela Diddle

“We talked about at half time how we were settling for outside shots, not really getting into our groove,” Rettstatt said.

“Us being aggressive on offense not only puts them in a bad position on defense, but also gives us more energy and gives us the momentum for ourselves on defense.”

It was at the start of the second half when Keyen Green came back into the game and revived the Flames.

Free throws, fouls and lack of turnovers by Liberty made the difference in the third quarter.

Keyen Green started the second half by drawing a foul on Campbell’s  Hannah Long and connected on both of her free throws.

“I think just watching the game and watching my teammates in there, it made me hungrier to play,” Keyen Green said.

“I kind of took it all out in the third and fourth quarter which benefited the team. I really wanted to make the biggest impact on defense because I knew if we made stops then that would translate into offense.”

Liberty continued to go to the free-throw line with makes from junior guard Nene Johnson, Keyen Green and Iva Ilic in the third quarter.

Kierra Johnson-Graham ended the free-throw streak with a miss.

In the first half, Liberty shot 3-4 on free throws and went 15-24 in the second half.

Campbell went 8-13 at the free-throw line.

Coach Green has been known to focus on free throws in practice.

Johnson said the Lady Flames have to make 50 free throws each day, which proved to be helpful in the game as they shot 64.3 percent as a team.

Johnson was 8-10 at the free-throw line and scored a total of 13 points.

Keyen Green also was in double digit points with a total of 11 points and eight rebounds.

Keyen Green was strong in the paint on defense getting a total of three charges and forcing two Campbell players, Makala Rouse and Bria Emanuel, to foul out.

“Earlier in the season, those fouls have been on me because I did not move my feet,” Keyen Green said about drawing the fouls.

“It just happens with moving your feet, getting in the right position and taking the contact.”

Once Rettstatt scored a basket in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, she opened the floodgates for other key players such as freshman forward Ola Makurat, who made a jumper, and freshman guard Lela Sellers, who made a three-pointer.

Campbell scored just one basket by Price in the last 6:58 minutes of the game.

In the fourth quarter, Liberty outscored Campbell 20-8.

Liberty went from 11 turnovers in the first half to three in the second half.

“We simply didn’t turn the ball over as much as we did the first half,” Coach Green said.

“With three turnovers, you’re going to have scoring opportunities. We had more scoring opportunities. We were successful scoring, and they gave us more confidence
with our defense.”

Liberty held Campbell’s star player Summer Price to 11 points though she has averaged 16.3 points per game over the last four games.

Hayley Barber of Campbell scored 13 points with six turnovers.

Campbell came into Liberty’s senior night knowing it clinched the second seed for the tournament.

The fate of the Lady Flames was based on the score from the Radford vs. High Point game which was going on at the same time.

Because Radford won, Liberty received the fourth seed and will play Charleston Southern, the No. 5 seed, Friday, March 10 at home.

COPELAND  is a sports reporter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *