ASUN Women's Basketball Championship MVP Keri Jewett-Giles set the tone for Sunday afternoon's title game by personally outscoring Liberty 11-2 during the first 4:07. FGCU's lead reached 26-8 by the end of the first quarter and the Eagles never looked back, winning their third straight ASUN title by a score of 72-49 in front of their home fans at Alico Arena.
FGCU (28-4) won its 19th straight game and its sixth ASUN championship in eight years by hitting 11 three-pointers and scoring 20 points off Liberty's 17 turnovers. Jewett-Giles (21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) led the way as the Eagles became the first team to defeat the Lady Flames three times in a season since UNCG in 1995-96.
Liberty's first season of ASUN Conference play ends with a 16-16 record after its 20th conference championship game appearance in the last 23 seasons. The Lady Flames shot just 35.8 percent (19-of-53) for the game, falling to 17-3 in conference title games all-time.
Emily Lytle (team-high 14 points) and Kierra Johnson-Graham (9 points, team-high 11 rebounds) represented the Lady Flames on the all-tournament team. They were joined by Jewett-Giles, FGCU's Tytionia Adderly (12 rebounds, 6 assists), FGCU's Nasrin Ulel (9 points), Kennesaw State's Kamiyah Street and North Florida's Ty Purifoy.
Box Score Highlights Other Liberty Individuals: Ria Gulley – 12 points, 4 rebounds; Melis Ucar – 7 points, 2 steals.
Other FGCU Individuals: Davion Wingate – 14 points; Destiny Washington – 12 points, 7 rebounds.
Key Team Stats: FGCU shot 44.8 percent (26-of-58) for the game, including 51.6 percent (16-of-31) during the first half. The Eagles racked up 21 fast break points and outscored the Lady Flames inside the paint 28-20. Liberty outrebounded its 13th straight opponent (37-32), with 10 offensive boards leading to 19 second-chance points.
Turning Point FGCU took control of the game with a pair of first-quarter runs. The first was the aforementioned 11-2 game-opening surge where Jewett-Giles scored all of the Eagles' points.
Liberty was within 16-8 before FGCU closed out the opening period with 10 straight points. Three-pointers by Destiny Washington and Chandler Ryan kick-started that run which extended the Eagles' lead to 18 points (26-8) through 10 minutes of play. Liberty got no closer than 16 points down the rest of the way.
Game Summary First Quarter • Keri Jewett-Giles scored FGCU's first 11 points, while Liberty missed its first six field goal attempts as the home team opened up an 11-2 advantage at the 5:53 mark.
• The Eagles later closed the quarter with a 10-0 run, extending out to a 26-8 lead through 10 minutes of play.
• FGCU made more three-pointers (4) than Liberty made field goals (3) during the first quarter and scored 13 points off the Lady Flames' seven turnovers.
Second Quarter • The Eagles' lead reached 26 points (42-16) on two free throws by Tytionia Adderly 2:26 before halftime.
• Liberty got three-pointers from Emily Lytle and Kierra Johnson-Graham late in the quarter but stilled trailed by 20 (44-24) at the intermission.
• The Lady Flames shot 53.8 percent (7-of-13) for the stanza but were outscored 18-16 during the 10-minute period.
Third Quarter • It took Liberty 4:37 to make its first field goal of the third quarter. That allowed the Eagles to build a pair of 27-point leads (54-27 and 56-29).
• FGCU shot only 35.3 percent (6-of-17) during the third period, but still owned a 59-35 edge at the end of the stanza as Liberty made just 27.3 percent (3-of-11) of its field goal tries.
Fourth Quarter • FGCU took its largest lead of the afternoon (70-39) when Keri Jewett-Giles scored her 21st and final point of the game from the foul line with 4:34 left.
• The Lady Flames outscored the Eagles 10-2 the rest of the way, aided by five Melis Ucar points, but it was too little, too late.
Head Coach Carey Green Quotes "I'm proud of the team. They have continued to develop a culture as a team, and they fought all the way to the end. The damage was done in the first quarter. We got ourselves in such a big hole early on. I'd like to congratulate FGCU. They're an outstanding team."
Notes and Nuggets • Emily Lytle hit two of Liberty's four three-pointers during the game, giving the redshirt sophomore 64 triples during her first season with the Lady Flames. That ties the Lady Flames' single-season record set by Cynthia Thomson during the 1989-90 season. She also finished with the third-highest single-season three-point field goal percentage (37.2) ever by a Lady Flame.
• Lytle scored a team-high 15.0 ppg for the tournament, hitting nine triples during the Lady Flames' three games.
• Kierra Johnson-Graham averaged 12.0 ppg and a team-high 7.7 rpg for the tournament. The junior made all four of her free throws on Sunday, finishing the tournament at 93.8 percent (15-of-16) from the foul line. Johnson-Graham ended the season by making 14 consecutive free throw attempts.
• Ria Gulley's 12 points marked her fourth double-digit scoring effort in the last five games.
• All three of Liberty's seniors playing their final game (KK Barbour – 2 points, Tatyana Crowder – 1 point and Melis Ucar – 7 points) got their names in the scorebook on Sunday. Ucar's point total was just two off her career high.
• Barbour ends her career tied for 16th all-time at Liberty in rebounding (586 boards), tied for 19th in three-pointers made (73) and 20th in scoring (825 points).
• Liberty had matched a season-high winning streak (five games) and has won five of its last six road games prior to Sunday.
• The Lady Flames finished 12-4 in their last 16 games after starting 4-12 during their first 16 games.
• Sunday marked Liberty's eighth and final game in Florida this season. The Lady Flames went 2-6 in the Sunshine State.