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Auburn Withstands Liberty Comeback, 70-64

December 15, 2009  Auburn, Ala.  RSS
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Devon Brown led all players in both points (19) and rebounds (8) during Tuesday's 70-64 loss at Auburn.

Devon Brown led all players in both points (19) and rebounds (8) during Tuesday's 70-64 loss at Auburn.

Liberty's furious second-half comeback sliced Auburn's lead from 14 points to three. However, the Tigers were able to fend off the Lady Flames and hold on to claim a 70-64 victory, Tuesday evening at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Redshirt freshman Devon Brown spearheaded the Lady Flames' second-half efforts, tallying 14 of her game-high 19 points and nabbing four of her game-high eight boards after the break. Nevertheless, Liberty drops to 6-2 after suffering its first road setback of the season.

Meanwhile, Auburn is now 7-3, after defeating the Lady Flames for the second straight year. The Tigers became the first team to score 70 points against Liberty in the last 35 games and the first opposing team to outrebound the Lady Flames in 2009-10, by a 34-23 margin. Auburn has now won four games in a row, overall.

The lead changed hands four times before the evening's first media timeout, which came at the 15:21 mark, with host Auburn in front, 9-8.

Blanche Alverson gave the Tigers their largest lead of the early-going, 14-10, when she drained a three-pointer from the top of the key at 13:15.

Brown countered with an old-fashioned three-point play on Liberty's ensuing possession, cutting the deficit to 14-13. However, the Lady Flames scored only two points over the next 9:44.

Liberty's offensive drought enabled Auburn to compose a 14-2 run, featuring three Alli Smalley triples. Alverson's transition layup wrapped up the surge, 3:37 before the intermission. Her hoop bolstered the homestanding Tigers' advantage to 28-15.

Avery Warley and Amber Mays scored from close range on Liberty's next two possessions, narrowing the gap to 28-19.

However, Auburn scored the half's final five points. Alverson's second triple of the opening 20 minutes sent the Tigers into the locker room with a 33-19 lead.

Liberty, debuting its new navy blue uniforms, shot only 32 percent (8-of-25) from the field during the first half. The Lady Flames forced 10 Auburn turnovers, but were only able to convert the miscues into four points.

Auburn shot 50 percent (13-of-26) from the floor, highlighted by six triples. The Tigers also outrebounded the Lady Flames, 22-8, prior to the break.

Individually, Mays paced Liberty with eight points and a pair of steals in the first half. Brown added five points and a team-high four rebounds.

For Auburn, Smalley notched 12 points in the opening stanza, all of which came on three-pointers. Alverson chipped in eight markers, while Jordan Greenleaf pulled down five caroms.

Liberty notched five of the second half's first six points, shaving Auburn's edge to 34-24 on Kylee Beecher's free throw with 18:45 remaining.

Chantel Hilliard pushed the Tigers' lead back to 14, 44-30, when she made a baseline jumper at 14:19. That was Auburn's last made field goal until Hilliard's putback, 4:51 later.

The Lady Flames fashioned a 14-4 surge during the span, culminating with freshman LaKendra Washington's first basket of the game, a driving layup at 9:51. Her conversion made the score 48-44, Auburn.

Brown converted a lob pass by Mays into a layup at the 4:19 mark, trimming the Lady Flames' deficit to 57-54.

A 5-0 Auburn spurt, finished off by KeKe Carrier's foul shot at 1:38, increased the home team's lead to 62-54.

Brown then nailed back-to-back three-pointers from the left corner, sandwiching a Morgan Toles charity toss for the Tigers. Brown's second trifecta, which came at the 50-second mark, closed the gap to 63-60.

That was as close as Liberty got, though, as Auburn closed out the contest by making seven out of eight free throws.

The Lady Flames shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) from the field and 90 percent (9-of-10) from the charity stripe in the second half, while outrebounding their hosts, 15-12.

However, Auburn totaled 23 bench points during the second half and converted eight offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.

For the game, Liberty outshot the Tigers from both the field (49 percent to 48 percent) and the foul line (92.3 percent to 69.6 percent). The Lady Flames also scored 42 points in the paint to Auburn's 20 and recorded all 10 of the game's fast break points.

The Tigers' 48 percent (24-of-50) field goal shooting was the highest by any Liberty opponent this season. Auburn also finished with 25 bench points, while the Lady Flames' reserves totaled just eight markers.

Mays complemented Brown's offensive production with a career-high 18 points, a game-high four steals and a trio of assists. Warley made it three Lady Flames in double figures, summing 10 points and six caroms.

Three Tigers scored in double digits as well, led by Greenleaf's 17 points. The forward also collected a team-best seven rebounds. Hilliard came off the bench for 14 points and five rebounds, while all 12 of Smalley's points came during the first half.

Liberty will not play again until Dec. 28, when they begin the Marriott Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va. The Lady Flames will square off with Cornell in the two-day tournament's opening game, Dec. 28 at 4:30 p.m. The event will also feature Samford and No. 17/19 Virginia.

Auburn will take to the road for a Sunday afternoon contest at South Alabama. Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m. Eastern.