Liberty used sharpshooting from three-point range and a strong rebounding effort to defeat North Alabama 61-48 in its regular-season finale on Senior Night, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center.
With its third straight victory, Liberty (14-15) wraps up its first regular season in the ASUN with a 10-6 conference mark. The Lady Flames have earned the No. 3 seed for the upcoming ASUN Women's Basketball Championship and will host the sixth-seeded Jacksonville Dolphins, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center. Fellow conference newcomer North Alabama closes the regular season 19-7 overall and 10-6 in the ASUN and has earned the No. 4 seed for the ASUN Tournament despite a four-game road losing streak to close out the regular season.
Senior KK Barbour, playing her final regular-season contest on her home court, scored a game-high 17 points and made a career-high five three pointers on five attempts in the winning effort. Redshirt sophomore Ria Gulley scored 15 points, 12 in the first half, on 6-of-12 shooting.
Liberty's senior class – Barbour, Tatyana Crowder and Melis Ucar – was honored with a Senior Day Ceremony prior to the game. Crowder contributed six points (3-of-5) shooting, five rebounds and a pair of steals in the win. Ucar knocked down a three-pointer late in the third quarter for her only basket of the evening. Barbour also grabbed nine boards.
Box Score Highlights Other Liberty Individuals: Kierra Johnson-Graham – 10 points, 5-9 FG, 4 rebounds; Bridgette Rettstatt – 6 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals.
North Alabama Individuals: Brittany Panetti – 16 points, 8-11 FG; Ivy Wallen – 10 points, 5-6 FT.
Key Team Stats: Liberty made 61.5 percent (8-of-13) of its three-pointers on the night and shot 48 percent from the floor (24-of-50) overall. The Lady Flames outrebounded the Lions 40-24 on Tuesday night. Liberty survived a 28-turnover evening by limiting North Alabama to a season-low 48 points on 35.2 percent (19-of-54) from the field and 14.3 percent (3-of-21) from three-point range. The Lady Flames are yielding just 47.3 ppg during their three-game winning streak.
Turning Point Liberty closed the first half on a 16-0 run to take a 38-19 lead into intermission. During that stretch, Kierra Johnson-Graham scored on back-to-back putbacks, followed by a Gulley triple to make it 30-19 Lady Flames with 3:09 left in the half.
Liberty's lead never sank below double digits the rest of the way. The Lions got within 10 (52-42) following a 7-0 run to open the fourth period. However, the Lady Flames responded with a 9-0 burst of their own, capped off by back-to-back Crowder baskets, to open the lead back up to 19, 61-42, with 3:06 remaining.
Game Summary First Quarter • KK Barbour entered the game following the first media timeout and made an immediate impact, burying back-to-back triples, which gave the hosts a 10-5 lead with 2:24 to go on the clock. • The Lady Flames made 75 percent (3-of-4) of their threes in the opening stanza, capped off by Ria Gulley's buzzer beater to close the period. Gulley's third field goal of the quarter provided Liberty a 15-9 lead after 10 minutes of action.
Second Quarter • Liberty shot over 50 percent from the floor (8-of-15, 53.3 percent) in the second quarter, including a perfect 3-of-3 mark from long distance. The Lady Flames also held a 12-4 edge in rebounding and limited UNA to 27.3 percent (3-of-11) shooting. • Six different Liberty players scored in the second quarter, led by eight points from Barbour. Her three-pointer with 34 seconds to go in the half sent the Lady Flames into the locker room with a 19-point advantage (38-19), their largest halftime lead of the season.
Third Quarter • North Alabama opened the quarter with a 12-5 run over the first 6:01 to close the gap to 12 (43-31). During that stretch, Liberty committed 10 turnovers. • The Lady Flames scored nine of the final 13 tallies in the third, capped off by a Melis Ucar triple with 16 seconds left in the quarter. The senior's first three-pointer since Feb. 12 put the home side ahead 52-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter • The Lions tallied seven points in the first 57 seconds of the final quarter, all of which were scored by Emma Wallen, to close within 10 (52-42). • Liberty's seniors responded by leading the Lady Flames on a 9-0 run. Barbour hit her fifth triple during the spurt, and Crowder scored four points. Crowder's jumper with the shot clock running down put the Lady Flames ahead 61-42 with 3:06 left.
Head Coach Carey Green Quote "All three (seniors) have shown great leadership and have tried to pass the baton down to the next group. Certainly, I'm grateful God brought them here to Liberty."
Notes and Nuggets • Liberty held North Alabama to a season-low 48 points in the game. Their previous season low coming in was 51 points. • This is the 20th straight year that the Lady Flames have won 10 or more conference games. • With her perfect 5-of-5 effort from three-point range, KK Barbour became the fourth Lady Flame ever to make five or more threes in a game without a miss. • Barbour is now the 15th Lady Flame in program history with 800 points and 500 rebounds, after eclipsing the 800-point mark on Tuesday. • Liberty is 7-5 at home this season, including a 5-3 mark against ASUN opponents. • Liberty joined No. 1 seed FGCU as the only ASUN teams to win both regular-season matchups with North Alabama.
Up Next The Lady Flames have clinched the No. 3 seed for the upcoming ASUN Women's Basketball Championship, winning the tiebreaker with North Alabama by virtue of their two wins over the Lions. They will host No. 6 seed Jacksonville (14-15, 7-9 ASUN), Friday at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center.
Date: Friday, March 8, 2019 Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Vines Center) Tipoff: 7 p.m. TV: ESPN+ Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg)
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