Liberty post players Keyen Green (26 points, 12 rebounds) and KK Barbour (18 points, 10 rebounds) powered the Lady Flames past Winthrop, 78-63, Saturday afternoon at the Winthrop Coliseum. Liberty's third straight victory clinches a first-round bye for the upcoming Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
Barbour set a new career high for points during her second career double-double, while Green equaled her career-best scoring output as part of her eighth double-double and fifth 20-point outing of her freshman season. Their performances helped the Lady Flames improve to 12-15 overall and 11-5 in Big South play. Liberty outrebounded Winthrop, 48-30, improving to 4-12 away from the Vines Center this season with its second road victory this week.
Winthrop (2-26, 1-15 Big South) was tied 42-42 midway through the third quarter before ultimately suffering its ninth straight loss. Senior Erica Williams paced the Eagles with 21 points and eight rebounds, becoming the second-leading scorer in program history. But Winthrop was undone by 18 turnovers which led to 24 Liberty points.
Green scored eight points within the game's first 4:06, helping Liberty jump out to an 8-2 advantage. Liberty then went four and a half minutes without a made field goal, enabling Winthrop to tie the game at 10-10 on Angela Coello Perez's corner triple with 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Green scored on a bank shot on Liberty's ensuing possession, closing out a 10-point period for the freshman and giving the Lady Flames a 12-10 advantage through 10 minutes of play.
Williams opened the second-quarter scoring with a three-point play for the Eagles, marking the first of eight lead changes during the stanza. Winthrop led 25-21 before Liberty closed the half with a 17-5 surge. Barbour scored the Lady Flames' final six points of the half, helping Liberty take a 38-30 lead at the intermission.
Green (16 points, 7 rebounds) and Barbour (10 points, 8 rebounds) starred during the first half, contributing to the Lady Flames' advantages in rebounds (27-16) and points in the paint (22-10).
Noell Kellers scored nine first-half points on three triples, as Winthrop shot 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc to keep the game close.
Winthrop emerged from the locker room with an 8-0 burst to begin the third quarter. Marissa Cantrell scored four of those points, including a jumper which evened the score at 38-38 with 7:16 remaining in the period. The Eagles tied the score two more times during the third but could never reclaim the lead.
Barbour closed the quarter with a flourish, scoring six points during the final 1:35 to help Liberty take a 55-51 edge into the final 10 minutes.
The Lady Flames sealed their victory with a steady dose of Green and defense in the fourth quarter. Green scored nine points during the stanza, while making the same amount of field goals (3) as Winthrop. Meanwhile, Liberty also forced eight fourth-quarter turnovers.
Williams scored 10 of the Eagles' 12 points in the final period, but it was not enough to keep Liberty from improving to 20-8 all-time at the Winthrop Coliseum.
The Lady Flames did not have their greatest afternoon shooting the basketball, ending up at 39.7 percent (27-of-68) from the field, 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from three-point range and 70.4 percent (19-of-27) from the foul line.
Winthrop finished at 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the floor, 40 percent (6-of-15) from long range and 93.8 percent (15-of-16) at the free throw line.
Liberty collected 20 offensive rebounds, converting them into 21 second-chance points. The Lady Flames also more than doubled up Winthrop inside the paint, 44-20.
Barbour's career day helped the Liberty reserves outscore Winthrop, 40-10. Iva Ilic added 10 points off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers.
Ola Makurat nearly made it four double-digit scorers for the Lady Flames, finishing with nine points and seven boards.
Winthrop's Cantrell joined Williams in double figures with 12 points for the game.
Up Next Liberty will close out the regular season with two home games at the Vines Center, beginning Monday at 7 p.m. versus defending Big South champion UNC Asheville. The Lady Flames will look to avenge a 64-54 loss they suffered at Asheville on Jan. 21.