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Houston Roars Back to Defeat Liberty, 75-68

November 24, 2017  Amherst, Mass.  RSS
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KK Barbour's 15 points paced the Lady Flames during Friday's game.

KK Barbour's 15 points paced the Lady Flames during Friday's game.

After trailing Liberty by 12 points Friday afternoon, Houston turned up the defensive pressure to pull out a 75-68 come-from-behind win. The Cougars scored 36 points off of the Lady Flames' 34 turnovers during the second game of the UMass Thanksgiving Classic at the Mullins Center.

Liberty limited the Cougars (3-2) to 19 first-half points before Houston exploded for 56 points after the break. Jasmyne Harris scored all 16 of her points during the second half, including a three-pointer at 7:06 of the fourth quarter which gave the Cougars the advantage for good. Teammate Angela Harris contributed 20 points, six assists and six of the victors' 18 steals.

Liberty falls to 1-3 with its third straight setback, despite shooting 52 percent (26-of-50) from the floor and 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from three-point range. The Lady Flames were undone by 20 second-half turnovers.

KK Barbour (15 points), Kierra Johnson-Graham (career-high 13 points) and Lela Sellers (season-high 10 points) all scored in double figures for Liberty, which drops to 108-2 under Head Coach Carey Green when making at least 50 percent of its field goals.

Liberty won the opening tip, leading to a Johnson-Graham three-pointer which initiated a 7-0 game-opening run by the Lady Flames. Houston cut the deficit to one on two different occasions, but Liberty stayed on top throughout the first quarter.

The Lady Flames got 10 bench points during the first 10 minutes, including four apiece from Sellers and Ola Makurat. A steal by Nene Johnson turned into a Makurat layup just before the buzzer, giving Liberty a 17-12 advantage after one.

Liberty scored 10 of the second quarter's first 12 points, extending its overall run to 14-2. Barbour tallied five points during the surge, including a triple from the left wing which extended the Lady Flames' advantage to 27-15, 5:14 before halftime.

Wearing its home white uniforms for the first time in 2017-18, Liberty took a 29-19 lead into the intermission. Houston entered the game averaging 72.8 ppg for the season, but the Lady Flames held the Cougars to 29.6 percent (8-of-27) shooting, including 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from three-point range, in the first half. Liberty also forced 13 first-half turnovers.

Barbour scored nine points before halftime, as Liberty shot 48 percent (12-of-25) from the floor and 60 percent (3-of-5) from beyond the arc. Barbour also attempted the only two free throws of the opening half, making both of them.

Houston made eight of its first nine field goal attempts to begin the third quarter, taking its first lead (42-41) when Serithia Hawkins swished two free throws at the 4:10 mark. The remainder of the period saw two ties and three lead changes before Liberty emerged with a 49-47 edge at the end of three quarters.

Houston scored 28 third-quarter points to get back into the game, shooting 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from the field and forcing 10 Liberty turnovers during the session.

Keyen Green, limited by foul trouble for much of the afternoon, extended the Lady Flames' cushion to 51-47 with a putback just 14 seconds into the fourth quarter. However, UMass took the lead for good during an ensuing 11-2 surge.

Liberty got back within one (58-57) when Ashtyn Baker hit a pair of free throws with 4:44 remaining. But Jasmyne Harris nailed two of her four triples during the next 3:17 as Houston rebuilt a seven-point edge (66-59), from which the Lady Flames could not recover.

Houston finished the contest at 43.3 percent (26-of-60) from the floor, including 54.5 percent (18-of-33) during the second half. The Cougars also sealed their victory by making 9-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter, pushing their percentage to 88.2 percent (15-of-17) on the day.

Liberty won the battle of the boards, 33-24, and outscored Houston in the paint, 38-26. Green scored nine points in just 14 minutes, while Makurat collected a team-high seven rebounds off the bench.

Johnson-Graham made all five of her field goal attempts, including both of her tries from three-point range, during her efficient 13-point outing.

Making her first career start, Baker dished out a season-high six assists for the Lady Flames. Fellow point guard Johnson contributed a season-best nine points.

Five Houston players scored in double figures, as Jasmyne and Angela Harris were joined by the trio of Hawkins (12 points, 11 rebounds), Octavia Barnes (12 points) and Dorian Branch (11 points).    

Up Next
Liberty will take on tournament host UMass (2-3) Saturday afternoon in the finale of the UMass Thanksgiving Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Mullins Center for the second all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and Minutewomen.

UMass lost to Northeastern by a 64-54 count in the tournament's opening game, Friday afternoon.