Iva Ilic hit five triples for 15 points during the Lady Flames' 63-55 season-opening win at Old Dominion.
Iva Ilic scored a game-high 15 of Liberty's 41 bench points, helping the Lady Flames tip off the 2017-18 season with a 63-55 win at Old Dominion, Friday at the Ted Constant Center. The victory marked the Lady Flames' first-ever win in a Preseason WNIT first round contest and their first triumph over the Monarchs in program history.
Liberty (1-0) advances to a Sunday, 2 p.m. second-round matchup at No. 24/23 Michigan after spoiling the head coaching debut of Old Dominion's (0-1) Nikki McCray-Penson. Sparked by an early 13-0 surge, the Lady Flames also became the first visiting team to beat Old Dominion in a season opener since No. 2 Stanford during the 2009-10 campaign.
With its first win over ODU in three tries, Liberty has now defeated each of the other 12 NCAA Division I women's basketball teams in Virginia in program history and is 19-4 in its last 23 Commonwealth clashes.
Ilic connected on a career-high five of her six triple tries, highlighting an impressive shooting night for the Lady Flames. Liberty finished at 52.4 percent (22-of-42) from the floor and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from three-point range.
Eleven of the 12 Lady Flames who saw playing time scored, giving the visitors a 41-16 advantage in bench points. Meanwhile, KK Barbour collected a game-high eight rebounds.
Odegua Oigbokie's 14 points paced ODU, which became the first team in the last 30 games to shoot over 50 percent against the Lady Flames. The Monarchs made 65.2 percent (15-of-23) of their second-half field goals, finishing at 51.1 percent (23-of-45) for the game. However, Old Dominion was victimized by 19 turnovers and 22.2 percent (2-of-9) free throw shooting.
After the lead changed hands three times early on, Liberty closed out the first quarter with 11 straight points, punctuated by Ashtyn Baker's driving right-handed layup as the buzzer sounded. The freshman's first career hoop gave the Lady Flames a 19-6 advantage through 10 minutes of play.
The Lady Flames shot 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from the floor in the first quarter, including 75 percent (3-of-4) from three-point range. Ilic knocked down two of those triples for six points during the stanza.
Keyen Green scored the first basket of the second quarter, finishing off Liberty's overall run at 13-0. The Lady Flames took a pair of 17-point leads, including a 29-12 cushion when Barbour scored from close range, 6:05 before halftime.
Liberty took a 33-18 lead into the intermission, thanks to effective work on both ends of the floor. The Lady Flames shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the field and 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from behind the three-point arc.
Defensively, Liberty limited ODU to 36.4 percent (8-of-22) from the floor, while forcing 10 turnovers. The blue-clad Lady Flames also outrebounded their hosts, 17-9, in the opening half.
Liberty scored the third quarter's first four points before MaKayla Timmons sparked a 10-0 burst by the Monarchs. Her shot clock buzzer-beating triple at 5:13 pulled ODU to within 37-28 after the Lady Flames had built their largest lead of 19 points.
Old Dominion scored more points in the third quarter (19) than it had during the entire first half (18), making 80 percent (8-of-10) from the field and all three of its three-point tries during the period. As a result, Liberty led by only eight points (45-37) heading to the fourth quarter.
Ilic connected on a pair of three-pointers during the first 3:48 of the final period, helping push Liberty's lead back to 16 points. Old Dominion trimmed its deficit to eight twice, but could get no closer as the Lady Flames won their season opener for just the second time in six years.
Baker and Ola Makurat chipped in eight points apiece off the Liberty bench, with each of them going 4-of-4 from the foul line. Makurat has now connected on 16 straight free throw attempts, dating back to last season.
Liberty finished with slight advantages in rebounds (25-24) and points in the paint (24-22), while converting Old Dominion's 19 miscues into 21 points.
Victoria Morris ended up with 10 points for the Monarchs, including two of her team's seven triples. Backcourt mate Ashley Jackson dished out a game-high eight assists.
Up Next Liberty will play in the Preseason WNIT second round for the first time in program history, facing No. 24/23 Michigan, Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
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