Liberty redshirt sophomore Emily Lytle scored 24 points in her Lady Flames debut, including three free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining which sent Friday's season opener into overtime. However, Bethune-Cookman emerged with a hard-fought 81-76 overtime victory at Moore Gymnasium.
Defending MEAC regular-season champion Bethune-Cookman improves to 2-0, aided by 20 points from MEAC Preseason Player of the Year Angel Golden. Liberty, victimized by 28 turnovers, opens its season at 0-1 for the fifth time in the last seven years.
Box Score Highlights Liberty Individuals: Emily Lytle – 24 points, 12-15 FT; KK Barbour – 12 points, 13 rebounds; Ashtyn Baker – 12 points; Ria Gulley – 11 points; Bridgette Rettstatt – 8 points, 15 rebounds
Bethune-Cookman Individuals: Angel Golden – 20 points, 3-7 3FG; Chasimmie Brown – 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks; Ashanti Hunt – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
Key Team Stats: The two teams combined to shoot 65 free throws, as Bethune-Cookman shot 57.1 percent (20-of-35) and Liberty hit 80 percent (24-of-30). Liberty outrebounded the Lady Wildcats by 27 boards (55-28), including 22 offensive caroms. Five players fouled out, including the Lady Flames' Lytle, Barbour and Tatyana Crowder.
Turning Point The score was tied at 76-76 with 1:24 remaining in overtime after a pair of Baker free throws. The next two possessions saw Lytle foul out, leading to an Amaya Scott free throw, and Armani Walker scored a fast break layup off of a steal. Liberty could not recover, as the Lady Flames were held scoreless for the final 1:23 of the contest.
Game Summary First Quarter • Newcomers combined to score 13 of the Lady Flames' 15 first-quarter points, led by Lytle's seven tallies.
• Liberty led 13-5 before the Lady Wildcats closed the period on an 11-2 run to take a 16-15 lead. Bethune-Cookman scored 10 points off the Lady Flames' seven first-quarter turnovers.
Second Quarter • The Lady Wildcats closed a back-and-forth quarter with a 6-0 run, taking a 33-29 halftime lead (the home team's largest advantage of the opening 20 minutes).
• Bethune-Cookman attempted all nine of the period's free throws, finishing the half at 10-of-15 from the line, as compared with Liberty's 2-of-2.
Third Quarter • Bethune-Cookman scored the third quarter's first four points, capping off a 10-0 surge and extending its lead to 37-29 at the 8:35 mark.
• Liberty held the home team to two made field goals during the final 6:49 of the period, but still trailed 45-42 through three quarters of action.
Fourth Quarter • Bethune-Cookman made its first five field goal attempts to start the fourth quarter, rebuilding a seven-point lead (56-49) at the 6:43 mark.
• Barbour and Gulley scored seven fourth-quarter points apiece for the Lady Flames, helping the visitors battle back and setting the stage for Lytle's heroics.
• Bethune-Cookman left the door open for a Lady Flames comeback by missing five of its eight fourth-quarter free throws. Conversely, Liberty was 9-of-10 at the line during the stanza.
Overtime • Liberty took a 72-71 lead with 3:50 to play on a Barbour three-pointer, which turned out to be the Lady Flames' only made field goal during the five-minute session.
• The overtime session featured four ties and four lead changes.
Coach Green Quotes "There are a lot of positives we can take from this game. We just have to show more poise. There were too many opportunities squandered with our turnovers. We have some new faces out there, and at times they get a little jittery. We did an excellent job rebounding, but weren't patient and lacked poise."
Notes and Nuggets • Lytle's 24 points set a new career high. Her season high during her freshman year at Little Rock in 2016-17 was nine points. Lytle became the first Lady Flame to make 10 or more free throws in a game since Sadalia Ellis hit 11 against Elon on Nov. 16, 2015.
• Lytle's 24 points were the most by a player making her Lady Flames debut since Devon Brown went for 26 points as a freshman against Winston-Salem State on Nov. 13, 2009.
• Gulley's 11 points were a new career high. Her season high at Indiana during her freshman year (2016-17) was eight points.
• Barbour's double-double was the sixth of her career. Her 13 rebounds tied a career high. Barbour also moved into 50th place on Liberty's all-time scoring list with 583 career points. All of the senior's points came after halftime.
• Rettstatt's 15 rebounds set a new career high and were the most by a Lady Flame since Keyen Green's 16 boards at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 15, 2017.
• Liberty played overtime for the first time since Jan. 15, 2017 at Gardner-Webb. The Lady Flames have lost their last three overtime contests.
• Friday's game marked the Lady Flames' first season opener to go to overtime since Liberty opened the 1986-87 campaign with a 107-96 victory over High Point in extra time.
• Liberty's all-time record against Bethune-Cookman fell to 3-2, as the Lady Flames fell to the Lady Wildcats for the first time since Dec. 9, 1995.
• Friday's game marked Liberty's first visit to Florida since Dec. 30, 2005. The Lady Flames are scheduled to play seven games in the Sunshine State during their first season as ASUN Conference members.
Up Next Liberty will play its home opener Tuesday at 6 p.m., when Virginia Tech visits the Vines Center for the first time in 12 years. The game will tip off a doubleheader with the men's basketball team, with the Flames set to host Trevecca Nazarene at 8:30 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Vines Center) TV: ESPN+ Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg) Tipoff: 6 p.m.