Lady Flames Upend Charleston Southern in Quarterfinals

Last year Charleston Southern University ended the Lady Flames season when it defeated Liberty in the quarterfinals round, which was only the second time head coach Carey Green had lost to the Buccaneers in his 18 years with Liberty. The 2017 quarterfinals game was also the last time the Lady Flames lost in the Vines Center.

This year the Lady Flames returned the favor by defeating the Buccaneers 80-53 in the quarterfinals round of the 2018 Big South women’s basketball championship. The Lady Flames win marks their sixth in a row, and improves their record in the Vines Center to 13-0 this season.

“I’m glad this first game is over with, it’s March madness and crazy things happen,” Green said.

The Lady Flames, who led the Big South in both offensive and defensive rebounding, dominated on the glass as they outrebounded the Buccaneers 43-16.

“We have it in our heads that when a shot goes up, we need to stick a body to someone whether it’s offensively or defensively, junior forward KK Barbour said.

Liberty also overwhelmed Charleston Southern defensively as it forced 10 steals throughout the game and held the Buccaneers to 29 percent shooting in the second half.

The second round victory was led by Barbour, who tallied 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and finished the game without a single turnover.

“It could be better,” Barbour said of her performance. “I could be more consistent with making layups and rebounding more. I had a good game tonight, but there’s always room for improvement.”

The Lady Flames began the game up-tempo as they won the tipoff and immediately began a 6-0 run. But the Buccaneers slowed Liberty down as they battled back 6-5, halfway through the first quarter. Liberty began to struggle late in the first quarter and the Buccaneers capitalized by taking a 9-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Liberty regained its focus by starting the second quarter on a 5-0 to take the lead at 14-12. Both teams battled closely for the majority of the second quarter, but Liberty began to pull away in the final three minutes as they outscored the Buccaneers 12-5, and took a commanding 36-26 lead at half.

“As a team we regrouped,” Barbour said. “We weren’t really running our offense. We were being stagnant and playing robotic, and not cutting to the ball.”

Charleston Southern attempted to close the gap in the second half, but Liberty was boosted by sophomore forward Ola Makurat, who contributed 12 of the Lady Flames 33 bench points. The Buccaneers were unable to find a spark in the second half, as the Lady Flames outscored them 44-27.

“I’d like to thank the Big South and Liberty for hosting a good tournament,” Charleston Southern head coach Fred Applin said. “You’ve got to give it to Liberty. They capitalize on rebounding and second chance shots. I’m so proud of this basketball team. It’s awesome that God has given us a chance to play basketball and to play at the highest level.”

The No.1 Lady Flames will play No. 4 High Point University on Saturday March 10 at 2p.m. in the Big South Semifinals game. The winner will advance to the Big South women’s basketball championship.

“We call it the law of the price,” Green said. “Anything that is worth value has a high cost. Each game as you advance, – quarterfinals, semifinals, finals – to be successful, is going to be a high cost. Everybody has to pay the price.”

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