Lady Flames Basketball defeat Kennesaw State in ASUN Quartefinals
Liberty Lady Flames basketball survived and advanced Saturday, opening their ASUN conference tournament campaign with a victory over Kennesaw State.
Emily Lytle led the way for the Lady Flames, scoring 29 points while only taking eight shots from the field. While the Lady Flames secured a 91-86 victory, Owls guard Amani Johnson scored 45 points for Kennesaw State.
Liberty shot 55.6% from the field and 57% from 3-point range, well above its season averages of 43% from the field and 29.9% from beyond the arc. The team ranks third in the conference in field goal percentage and fifth in points per game. The Lady Flames scored the second-most points of any team in the quarterfinal round, behind FGCU’s 105 points against Lipscomb.
For Coach Carey Green, the team’s mentality will make the difference in the tournament.
“Champions do all of the little things really well that nobody else wants to do that are overlooked, and that is what makes them a champion,” Green said. “That is what we have been trying to emphasize all year, and they are beginning to understand that.”
The Lady Flames finished the regular season 18-11, earning a No. 3 ranking for the tournament. Their record was an improvement from last year, and Coach Green believes that the team is ready for the challenge.
“We have some great leadership coming from Ashtyn Baker, Keyen Green, Emily Lytle and Bridgette Rettstatt. These are experienced players who have really stepped up and have been involved,” Coach Green said.
Keyen Green, Lytle and Baker are the team’s leading scorers, each averaging over 10 points per game.
Baker, a junior, is no stranger to the big stage, having competed in the last two conference championships for Liberty. To Baker, an elimination tournament game is just another game.
“I try to think of (tournament games like) any other game, and I try not to think about how it is win or go home. Now I prepare like any other game and try and keep everything consistent,” Baker said.
The Lady Flames fell short of the NCAA tournament in a championship loss to Florida Gulf Coast University last year. Coach Green has worked on stressing the importance of consistency and hard work to help push the team to win
“Our kids will always be determined. It is about the preparation,” Coach Green said. “It is repetitive confidence-building drills and skills. … The girls are very competitive, and you put all of that together and that is what it comes down to.”
As the tournament continues, Liberty will face off against the No. 2-ranked Northern Alabama in the conference semifinals Wednesday. The Lions are coming off a 70-60 win over Stetson in the quarterfinals.
Dean is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter.