Seven-game win streak for women’s basketball

For the first time in three home games, the Liberty women’s basketball team did not utilize overtime to defeat its opponent.

That did not mean, however, that the Lady Flames game on Feb. 5 against Kennesaw State was not a close contest.

Entering Saturday afternoon, Liberty was 9-0 in its last meetings with the Owls. However, seven of the nine games were decided by nine points or less. Though Liberty did not need overtime to secure the victory this time, a late push by Kennesaw State made it uncomfortable for the red, white and blue. 

The scoring started early for the Lady Flames. Mya Berkman, fresh off a 23-point performance in Thursday’s overtime victory versus Jacksonville State, scored the first bucket in and-one fashion just seven seconds into the game. 

Though Liberty led early, seven turnovers in the first quarter prevented the Lady Flames from creating any separation. Liberty did share the ball well on the offensive end, dishing out six assists on eight baskets in the quarter, leading 19-14 at the conclusion of the first.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lady Flames held the Owls without a field goal for almost nine and a half minutes, stretching well into the second quarter. A flurry of field goals, two by Alise Markova and one by Audrey Clark on an assist from Markova, put Liberty up by 15 points halfway through the quarter. 

Liberty gapped Kennesaw State by taking better care of the ball and by outrebounding the Owls for multiple second-chance opportunities. The Lady Flames also had 11 assists in the first half, leading 40-26 come halftime.

“Most of our turnovers are results of not reading, not reversing the ball,” Head Coach Carey Green said going into the halftime locker room. “(I’m) really proud of how we’re rebounding … really surprised me with the offensive boards.”

Kennesaw State played inspired basketball to start the second half, making five of six midway through the third quarter to cut into Liberty’s lead. The Owls started taking shots earlier in their possessions before the Liberty defense could get into position. Kennesaw was also assisted by foul trouble, limiting minutes from Berkman and Kennedi Williams.

Things got tight in the fourth quarter as Kennesaw State cut the Liberty lead to six. Turnovers once again became a factor, as the Owls scored 20 points off turnovers compared to Liberty’s 12. Rebounds were crucial for the Lady Flames, as they scored 15 second-chance points on the afternoon. 

 Though the last bucket of the game came off a Markova 3-pointer with almost four minutes left, the Owls could not break the six-point barrier, and Liberty won the game 65-57.

It was a career game for redshirt junior Markova, scoring 15 points on 5-7 shooting. Emma Hess also notched a career-high five assists, while Williams set a career high with five rebounds. Berkman added her sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Securing the victory, the Lady Flames now move to 15-7 on the season, extending their win streak to seven games. Liberty will now hit the road, traveling to Central Arkansas, North Alabama and ASUN newcomer Queens before returning home to take on Queens once again on Feb. 18 at Liberty Arena.

Barnes is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

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