Liberty's Audrey Rettstatt (career-high 19 points, career-high 10 rebounds) and Ola Makurat (10 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded their first career double-doubles on Friday, helping the Lady Flames snap a two-game losing skid with a 67-56 victory over Charleston Southern at the Vines Center.
Liberty (10-15, 9-5 Big South), which has still never lost three straight Big South games in 18 seasons under Head Coach Carey Green, enjoyed a 48-26 rebounding advantage, including 20 offensive boards. Liberty has suffered back-to-back setbacks coming into the game.
The Lady Flames have now won eight straight home games this season, 14 straight matchups with Charleston Southern and 23 consecutive home meetings with the Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern falls to 14-11 overall and 8-6 in the Big South despite 19 points from Rachel Burns. The Buccaneers were held to 35.4 percent (17-of-48) shooting, including 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from three-point range.
Liberty never trailed during the first quarter, as six different Lady Flames scored points and the home team tallied 10 points in the paint. Charleston Southern shot only 10 percent (1-of-10) from the field during the stanza but trailed only 13-12 after shooting 90.9 percent (10-of-11) from the free throw line.
After hitting five free throws during the first quarter, Alyssa Mann connected on a baseline jumper to start the second, giving CSU its first lead of the night at 14-13. But Liberty went back on top just 27 seconds later.
The Lady Flames later used an 11-4 surge to open up some breathing room. Back-to-back Iva Ilic triples opened the run and Rettstatt's pair of free throws at 3:43 gave Liberty its largest lead of the opening half, 30-22.
The Lady Flames took a 35-28 lead into the intermission after shooting 50 percent (5-of-10) from three-point range and outrebounding CSU, 29-12, during the first half. Nine different Liberty players scored points before halftime, paced by Rettstatt with seven.
The Buccaneers made only 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from the field in the first half, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. CSU did make 85.7 percent (12-of-14) of its free throw attempts during the first 20 minutes of play.
Rettstatt scored the Lady Flames' first six points of the second half, giving Liberty its first double-digit lead (41-30) with two foul shots at 6:45. Charleston Southern responded with a 13-2 run, tying the score at 43-all when Ke'Asia Jackson swished a perimeter jumper with 1:16 to play in the quarter. Liberty then scored the period's final four points, taking a 47-43 edge into the fourth quarter.
Tierra Steede opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a layup, cutting CSU's deficit to two (47-45), but missed her chance at a three-point play. That was as close as the Buccaneers would get, although the visitors were still within five (58-53) when Burns connected from long-distance with 2:57 to play.
Liberty, which had attempted only six free throws during the first three quarters, went to the line 12 times during the final 2:23, making nine of the attempts to seal the victory and a regular-season sweep of the Buccaneers. The Lady Flames finished the night at 40 percent (22-of-55) from the floor, 31.3 percent (5-of-16) from three-point range and 78.3 percent (18-of-23) from the foul line. Liberty, which ranks ninth of 10 Big South teams in free throw percentage, has now shot 72 percent or better in five of its last six outings.
Liberty doubled up CSU inside the paint, 32-16, and its ninth 20-rebound game of the season led to 16 second-chance points.
Rettstatt's career-high scoring output included career highs for free throws made (8) and attempted (9). The Lady Flames' lone senior has now scored more than twice as many points this season (138) as in her first three years combined (60).
Makurat's game-high 11 rebounds equaled the freshman's career high.
Classmate Lela Sellers pulled down a career-high eight boards in her first start since Jan. 15. She had previously established career highs for points (21) and three-pointers (4) during Liberty's first matchup with Charleston Southern, on Jan. 3.
Keyen Green, limited to 16 minutes due to foul trouble, ended up with six points and four rebounds. She now has 202 boards this season, becoming the first Liberty freshman with 200 rebounds since Ashley Rininger in 2012-13.
Nene Johnson chipped in nine points for the Lady Flames, five of which came at the foul line during the final 2:23.
Charleston Southern's starting backcourt of Burns, Jackson (16 points) and Mann (10 points) all reached double digits on the evening. Elyse Kiploks grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Burns finished with 41 points in two regular-season meetings with Liberty this season.
Up Next Liberty will play its final two road games of the regular season next week, beginning Tuesday at Longwood (4-20, 1-12 Big South). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Willett Hall, where the Lady Flames will attempt to complete a season sweep of the Lancers. Liberty achieved a season-high point total in a 92-47 victory over Longwood, Jan. 17 at the Vines Center.