Lady Flames women’s basketball records 12th win on the season over Kennesaw State
The Liberty Lady Flames (12-10, 5-4) women’s basketball team survived a scare against the Kennesaw State Owls (9-11, 3-6), wrapping up their homestead with a 76-66 victory on Monday.
In the first quarter, the Owls gave the Lady Flames offensive trouble with a variety of defensive schemes. Kennesaw State played full-court presses that transitioned to half-court zone, and traditional man-to-man looks that allowed them to build an 8-7 lead with three minutes left in the period.
But Lady Flames Head Coach Carey Green diagnosed this problem and made simple yet key adjustments to break through.
“I subbed a lot early,” Green said. “I was trying to take the emotion out and trying to get them (Liberty) to understand what we were looking for. You have to give them freedom, because if I lock up their mind, they make a lot of mistakes.”
The Lady Flames used that freedom to spark an offensive clinic in the second quarter. The one-two punch of junior forward Keyen Green and sophomore forward Mya McMillian sliced through the Owls defense for 19 of the Lady Flames 22 second-quarter points. Keyen Green moved into 14th all-time on Liberty’s scoring list, passing Brenda Gunsallus on a layup halfway through the quarter.
While she did not keep track of her points during the game, Keyen Green recognized her contribution.
“I knew I was doing pretty good because I didn’t get many rebounds, which means the shots were going in,” Keyen Green said.
She finished the night with 21 points and six rebounds and praised McMillian for her contributions.
“She needs these big games, because once we graduate, it’s got to be her that takes over that spot,” Keyen Green said. “It’s great to see her confidence up.”
Liberty continued to efficiently work the ball on offense in the third quarter, with the Lady Flames converting several baskets as the shot clock expired. McMillian recorded nine of her 17 points in the third, and Liberty controlled the tempo for much of the quarter.
Several of the Lady Flames offensive possessions were executed so well that they left Coach Carey Green stunned.
“Do you know what a Picasso is?” Coach Green said he remarked to his bench. “It’s a magnificent painting. That play you just saw – that was Picasso.”
However, much of the fourth quarter looked more like a Jackson Pollard painting than a Picasso for the Lady Flames. Turnovers, resting the starters and a four-minute field-goal drought contributed to the Lady Flames lead of 23 shrinking down to seven with 2:23 to go. The Owls went on a 14-0 run, sparked by junior forward Alexis Poole registering eight of her 18 points in the final frame.
With the game in the balance, junior guard Emily Lytle made the play of the night. Wearing “RIP Mamba” on her shoes to honor the late Kobe Bryant, Lytle hit a dagger three at the top of the arc to put the Flames up by 10.
“Being able to know that I can hit my shot as a shooter, seeing the ball going through the net, is the best thing,” Lytle said.
Even though the game almost slipped away, Coach Green took the night as a learning lesson for his up-and-coming squad.
“We just need to slow it down and go back to the fundamentals,” Coach Green said. “We’ve got to take deep breaths, let our offense work and realize we have a little cushion.”
The Lady Flames went on to fall 86-75 to the North Alabama Lions Saturday, Feb. 8. Liberty will return to the Vines Center Saturday, Feb. 15, when they host the NJIT Highlanders at 2 p.m.
Simmons is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter.