Liberty lost despite KK Barbour's 24-point, 13-rebound outing, which included a game-tying triple with 8.1 seconds remaining.
Liberty junior KK Barbour played the best game of her career, Saturday afternoon at the Mullins Center, scoring a career-high 24 points and nailing a game-tying three-pointer with 8.1 seconds remaining. However, UMass freshman Paige McCormick got the last laugh, sinking the game-winning triple as the final buzzer sounded. Her clutch hoop gave the host Minutewomen a 64-61 victory in the UMass Thanksgiving Classic finale.
Forced to play comeback all afternoon after falling behind 8-0 to start the game, Liberty (1-4) never led and only tied the score on Barbour's clutch triple off an Ashtyn Baker assist. The Lady Flames forced a loose ball on UMass' (3-3) ensuing possession, but Bre Hampton-Bey corralled it and found McCormick standing alone on the right wing, just in time for the game winner.
With fellow post standout Keyen Green missing the game due to injury, Barbour more than filled the void. She scored 15 points in the second half and led all players with a career high-equaling 13 rebounds for her third career double-double. Despite her best efforts, Liberty lost its fourth straight contest as UMass connected on nine triples on the afternoon.
Genesis Rivera hit five of the victors' three-pointers during a 19-point, six-rebound contest, while McCormick added 14 tallies.
UMass began the game on an 8-0 run during the first 2:13 of play, including four points by McCormick. Barbour posted seven points and two rebounds during the first quarter, helping Liberty battle back to within four, before the Minutewomen took a 20-15 lead through 10 minutes of play.
UMass built its early advantage by shooting 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from the field in the first quarter, including a pair of triples.
Three-pointers by Ola Makurat and Iva Ilic keyed Liberty's 8-1 surge during the second quarter. Barbour's layup completed the run with the Lady Flames trailing by a single point, 27-26, 2:29 before the intermission.
Host UMass then tallied the half's final seven points, punctuated by Rivera's three-pointer which beat the halftime buzzer and sent the Minutewomen to the break with a 33-26 cushion.
Rivera made three of her team's five triples before halftime, as part of an 11-point half. UMass also limited Liberty to 35.5 percent (11-of-31) from the field and recorded an 18-15 rebounding advantage.
Making her first start of the season, Makurat scored 10 first-half points while fellow post Barbour added nine points and six rebounds for the Lady Flames.
Barbour scored seven straight points during the third quarter, cutting UMass' lead to three points on two occasions (38-35 and 40-37). But McCormick answered with seven points of her own, enabling the home team to stay on top throughout the period. The Minutewomen maintained a seven-point lead (50-43) heading to the final 10 minutes of play.
UMass pushed its edge to eight twice, including at 53-45 when Hampton-Bey hit a layup with 8:12 remaining. Liberty then held the Minutewomen to three made field goals the rest of the way, but they were all of the three-point variety (two by Rivera and the game winner by McCormick).
Lela Sellers' triple and Nene Johnson's pull-up hoop trimmed Liberty's deficit to 59-58 with 2:19 left.
Neither team scored again until UMass' Hailey Leidel made a pair of free throws with 15.8 ticks on the clock. The foul shots extended her team's lead to 61-58 and set the stage for the dramatic three-pointers by Barbour and McCormick.
Liberty outscored UMass in the paint (28-18) and in second-chance points (21-10) while committing a season-low 12 turnovers. However, the Lady Flames shot just 39 percent (23-of-59) from the floor.
The Minutewomen shot 44.4 percent (20-of-45) from the field and 42.9 percent (9-of-21) from beyond the arc, while owning a slight 32-29 rebounding advantage.
Both teams shot well from the foul line, including 81.8 percent (9-of-11) for Liberty and 83.3 percent (15-of-18) for UMass.
Barbour connected on all six of her free throw attempts and made two triples while shattering her previous career high of 18 points. She is now averaging 18.3 ppg over her last three outings.
Makurat added a season-best 12 points for the Lady Flames, while Baker matched a season high with six assists.
Leidel made it three Minutewomen in double figures, scoring 11 points and sinking two triples.
Up Next After playing five straight games away from Lynchburg, Liberty will finally play its 2017-18 home opener on Tuesday, welcoming Limestone (3-1) to the Vines Center for a 7 p.m. tipoff.