Women’s basketball sweeps Bellarmine At Home

The Lady Flames basketball team beat Bellarmine in back-to-back wins on Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 13 and 14, but Emily Lytle stole headlines by becoming just the 18th Lady Flame to reach 1,000 career points.

Lytle became the second player this season to reach the 1,000-career-points benchmark, alongside senior guard Ashtyn Baker. The last Lady Flame to achieve this feat was Keyen Green during the 2019-2020 season, prior to Liberty’s season ending early due to COVID-19. Lytle was very happy to achieve the feat after Feb. 13’s emphatic win.

“It made me feel pretty good,” Lytle said. “Anytime you get an award or break a record, it is always a good feeling.”

However, the Lady Flames had a sluggish start to the first game of the back-to-back series, letting Bellarmine take a 9-2 lead early on in the first quarter. The Lady Flames fought back, going on a 9-0 run to take the lead 11-10, and only giving up the lead once more before taking command of the game. Liberty won 76-62.

The second quarter was arguably the most influential quarter of the game, as Liberty outscored Bellarmine by 11 and out-rebounded the Knights by five. Coach Green viewed the second quarter as the point in the game where everything “opened up.”

“At the end of the day, I’m looking at the stat line, we won the first quarter by two, third quarter by one, and we were even in the fourth quarter (total points scored per quarter),” Green said. “It’s that second quarter where we opened up and had our best defensive quarter, as well as our best offensive quarter in the game. That was enough to separate us, and it changed the outcome of the game a little bit. It gave us more freedom executing some things, and it was a pretty good battle to that point.”

Lytle muscles her way through the pain against the Bellarmine defense (photograph by John Sommers II).

Despite the slow start, the Lady Flames lit up the court offensively as the game went on, with five Lady Flames reaching double digits in the first matchup against Bellarmine (Emily Lytle, Mya Berkman, Ashtyn Baker, Priscilla Smeenge and Bella Smuda). Lytle credits intense practices for the team’s success.

“One of the things we work on in practice is offense,” Lytle said. “Coach (Green) always wants to keep it intense in practice, even harder in practice than it is in the game, so (that) when we get to the game, we will be on top.”

Liberty followed up Saturday’s emphatic win with another win Sunday that felt a little too close for comfort, winning 79-73. Similar to the first of the two-game series, Liberty started the game on the back foot, finishing the first quarter down 22-20. However, the second quarter proved to be the difference-maker in the game once again, with Liberty holding the Knights off to finish with the series sweep. 

Liberty played Shepherd College at home Feb. 21 in a nonconference matchup that finished 73-65 in favor of the Lady Flames. The Shepherd Rams had not played a game in 354 days since a matchup against Shippensburg March 4, 2020. 

Kevin Gora is a Sports Reporter. Follow him on twitter at @kevgora.

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