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High Point Withstands Liberty Comeback

December 30, 2013  High Point, N.C.  RSS
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Simone Brown totaled seven points, four rebounds and two steals during Monday's setback at High Point.

Simone Brown totaled seven points, four rebounds and two steals during Monday's setback at High Point.

Visiting Liberty used a second-half comeback to trim a 14-point deficit to three, Monday evening at High Point. However, the Panthers held on for a hard-fought 75-70 victory at the Millis Center, snapping the Lady Flames' five-game winning streak.

Liberty drops to 6-6 overall and 2-1 in Big South play despite strong efforts by Mickayla Sanders (career high-tying 16 points) and Catherine Kearney.(career-high 14 points and career-high 13 rebounds).

High Point is also 6-6 overall and 2-1 in conference action after halting its three-game losing skid. The Panthers were victorious thanks in large part to the backcourt duo of Kaylah Keys (19 points) and Lindsay Puckett (17 points), who combined for all eight of High Point's made three-pointers.

A number of other streaks came to an end at the Millis Center, as well. Prior to Monday, Liberty had won 11 straight road games against conference opponents and seven straight road tilts at High Point. Additionally, the visiting team had won six straight Liberty-High Point matchups before the Panthers' home triumph.

After Liberty scored the evening's first five points, High Point countered with a 10-2 run. Freshman Keys hit two triples during the spurt, including one with 16:32 left in that half that put the Panthers in front, 10-7.

The rest of the opening half featured a considerable amount of ties (5 total for the half), lead changes (7 total for the half), fouls (26 in the half) and free throw attempts (28 in the half).

High Point made five of its six free throw tries during the final 1:31 of the half, taking its largest lead of the period (35-29) into halftime.

The Lady Flames made only 25 percent (7-of-28) of their first-half field goal attempts but stayed close by making 93.3 percent (14-of-15) of their foul shots. Meanwhile, High Point was 35.5 percent (11-of-31) from the field and 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from the charity stripe during the opening 20 minutes.

Liberty won the first-half rebounding battle, 24-19, but committed 14 turnovers.

Sanders topped the Lady Flames with six points during the opening half, while Kearney pulled down eight boards. High Point's Stacia Robertson was the period's leading scorer with nine tallies.

High Point drained three triples during the first 4:05 of the second half, helping the Panthers push their lead to 14 points (50-36) on DeAnneisha Jackson's two free throws with 15:16 left.

Led by Kearney (12 second-half points) and Sanders (10 second-half points), Liberty chipped away at the deficit the rest of the night.

The Panthers still led by a dozen points (66-54) when Puckett's perimeter jumper swished through the net at the 7:22 mark.

Liberty then went on a 13-4 surge, making it a one-possession game (70-67) when Simone Brown made a second-chance layup with 55.8 ticks left.

High Point was able to close out the five-point victory at the foul line, though, hitting five of its six attempts during the final 44.5 seconds.

The Lady Flames shot well during the second half (14-of-27 for 51.9 percent), finishing the game at 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the field. Liberty also shot a solid 77.4 percent (24-of-31) at the charity stripe and enjoyed significant advantages in rebounds (48-30), points in the paint (32-10), second-chance points (19-6) and bench points (29-11).

However, High Point shot well from three-point range (8-of-21 for 38.1 percent) and the foul line (19-of-24 for 79.2 percent) while converting Liberty's 27 turnovers into 16 points.

Sanders' 16 points give the freshman back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts for the first time in her young career. She also pulled down six rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Kearney fashioned her second career double-double, highlighted by nine offensive rebounds. Fellow post player Ashley Rininger was held to single digits in the scoring column for just the second time this season with seven points, but she did grab eight boards.

For High Point, three-time Big South Freshman of the Week Keys nailed five triples and scored 13 of her 19 points after halftime. Puckett notched 10 of her 17 points in the second half, while Latrice Phelps made it three Panthers in double figures with 13 points on the night.

Liberty will continue its three-game road swing and tip off play in the year 2014 Thursday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to Charleston Southern (4-7, 1-2 Big South).