Liberty snapped its four-game losing streak in a big way during Tuesday's home opener against Limestone at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames held the Saints 40 points below their season scoring average during a 68-38 triumph.
After opening the 2017-18 campaign with five games in four different states, Liberty (2-4) thrived in its return to Lynchburg, the Lady Flames' 350th game at the Vines Center. Ola Makurat's season-high 14 points paced Liberty's balanced scoring attack, which saw 12 different Lady Flames score points on the evening.
Playing its second game in as many nights, Limestone (4-1) classified the contest as an exhibition. The Saints, who have made six straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, shot just 26.7 percent (12-of-45) for the game. Leading scorers Jasmine Richardson and Keidra Smith were limited to a combined five points during Limestone's first-ever visit to the Vines Center.
Makurat accounted for the first three made field goals of Tuesday night's game. Her fast early start, combined with Limestone's nine straight missed field goals to begin the contest, helped the Lady Flames grab a 10-3 lead at 2:53 of the first quarter.
Following Limestone's lone field goal of the opening quarter, a Cameron Martin three-pointer, Liberty went on a 20-2 run before the Saints hit their next field goal. Ashtyn Baker's baseline jumper on a fast break put the Lady Flames in front, 30-8, 3:40 before halftime.
The Lady Flames remained on top by 22 points (35-13) at the intermission after limiting Limestone to 13 percent (3-of-23) shooting and doubling up the Saints in rebounds, 28-14.
Makurat made all four of her first-half field goal attempts for nine points, while KK Barbour chipped in five points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Liberty's advantage reached 27 (41-14) when Iva Ilic swished a three-pointer 1:44 into the third quarter. Limestone shot 50 percent (6-of-12) during the period, cutting its deficit to 50-29 when Taylour Hunter hit a triple just before the buzzer.
Brooke Basinger scored the first points of her Liberty career on a three-pointer with 4:15 remaining, extending the Lady Flames' lead to 34 (66-32), their largest of the night. Liberty's final margin of victory was 30 points as the Lady Flames improved to 277-73 all-time at the Vines Center.
Liberty finished at 41.5 percent (27-of-65) from the floor, including eight three-pointers.
At 6-0, Aaliyah Davis is Limestone's tallest player, and the Lady Flames used their significant size advantage to full effect. Liberty outrebounded the Saints, 51-25, and converted their 22 offensive boards into 19 second-chance points.
All 13 Lady Flames who played grabbed at least one board, paced by Barbour's nine rebounds. The junior added six points, a team-high four assists and a team-high four steals, equaling her career highs in the latter two categories.
Makurat's 14 points came in efficient fashion, as the sophomore shot 6-of-8 from the floor and made both of her three-point attempts. She has now scored in double figures in back-to-back games.
Baker matched her career high with eight points for the Lady Flames, while Jayla Morrow's eight tallies topped Limestone's scoring chart.
Up Next Liberty will conclude its quick two-game homestand Saturday at 4 p.m. when Valparaiso (2-2) visits the Vines Center for the first time. The Lady Flames will look to avenge a 70-68 setback at the buzzer from last season's visit to Valparaiso.
Saturday's game will be part of a basketball doubleheader at the Vines Center, following the 1 p.m. men's basketball clash between Liberty and UNCG.