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Liberty's Comeback Falls Short at Charlotte

March 16, 2011  Charlotte, N.C.  RSS
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Devon Brown scored 12 of her 14 points during the second half, spearheading Liberty's comeback attempt, which ultimately fell short in a 62-56 loss to Charlotte.
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Trailing by 19 points with five minutes remaining in the first half at Charlotte Wednesday evening, Liberty made a furious comeback in its Postseason WNIT debut. However, the Lady Flames could get no closer than four points, and the 49ers survived for a 62-56 victory at Halton Arena.

Liberty's 2010-11 season ends at 22-11, even though the Lady Flames limited the 49ers to 22.5 percent (9-of-40) shooting in the second half.

Meanwhile, Charlotte (24-9) was led by Epiphany Woodson's game-high 22 points. The 49ers move on to the WNIT's second round, where they will play at South Carolina Sunday at 2 p.m.

After Avery Warley hit a layup on Liberty's opening possession, Charlotte scored 10 straight points. Jennifer Hailey bookended the home team's surge with a layup and two free throws at the 17:06 mark, which put the 49ers in front, 10-2.

Charlotte's lead reached 17-4 at 13:18, when Woodson nailed an NBA-range three-pointer as the shot clock expired.

Liberty countered with a 7-2 burst, cutting the deficit to 19-11 on Emily Frazier's bank shot from the paint, 10:24 before halftime.

However, the red-clad Lady Flames did not score again for nearly six minutes, as the 49ers tallied an 11-0 run. An Amanda Dowe layup at 5:09 made the score 30-11 in favor of the home team.

Liberty scored seven of the next eight points, including four by Danika Dale. The Lady Flames pulled to within 31-18, 2:35 before intermission, when Rachel McLeod split a pair of free throws.

Charlotte then hit two triples during the final 70 seconds of the opening half, pushing their advantage to 37-22 at halftime.

While the homestanding 49ers shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field during the first 20 minutes, Liberty made just 29.4 percent (10-of-34) of its shots.

Charlotte took advantage of 13 Liberty turnovers, scoring 18 first-half points off of the Lady Flames' giveaways.

Liberty outrebounded the home team in the opening stanza, 21-16, and managed seven second-chance points.

Warley, Dale and Dymond Morgan scored four points apiece before halftime to lead the Lady Flames. Dale and Kylee Beecher each collected three rebounds.

Woodson's 16 points led all scorers in the first half, while teammate Shannon McCallum pulled down five rebounds and distributed three assists.

After being held to two first-half points, Devon Brown tossed in six markers during the first 2:18 of the second period. The redshirt sophomore's scoring outburst helped the Lady Flames climb back into the game.

Brown's nifty assist set up Warley for a layup with 16:45 on the clock. The two points capped a 7-0 Lady Flames burst which shaved the deficit to 41-34.

Charlotte's lead stood at eight points before a 6-1 surge expanded it to 13. Hailey's layup at 13:55 put the 49ers on top, 50-37.

McLeod punctuated Liberty's ensuing 5-0 surge with an old-fashioned three-point play at the 12:20 mark, slicing her team's deficit to 50-42.

The Lady Flames continued chipping away at the 49ers' edge, making it 53-48 after Warley's two free throws with 6:27 left.

Liberty got within four points on three occasions down the stretch, including 60-56 at the 25.6 mark, when Brown scored off an inbounds play.

However, Charlotte held off the Lady Flames at the line. Both Jai Forney and Woodson drilled a pair of charity tosses within the game's final minute. As a result, the 49ers closed out a 62-56 victory, their third WNIT triumph over a Big South opponent in the last five seasons.

Liberty, which shot 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from the floor after halftime, ended the game with a better field goal percentage than its host. The Lady Flames ended up at 37.1 percent (23-of-62), while the 49ers slipped to 34.3 percent (23-of-67) after a hot-shooting opening half.

Charlotte made 80 percent (12-of-15) of its foul shots, while Liberty ended up at just 57.1 percent (8-of-14).

Another key stat was turnovers. Liberty made 22 of them on the night, leading to 24 Charlotte points. Many of those points came in transition, contributing to the 49ers' impressive total of 20 fast break tallies.

In a battle between two of the nation's top rebounding teams, Liberty came out with the upper hand. The Lady Flames outrebounded Charlotte, 49-39, and also scored 40 points inside the paint. Liberty ended the year winning the rebounding battle in 27 straight contests.

Brown and Warley, who both scored double-digit points within the second half alone, finished with matching stat lines of 14 points and six rebounds for the Lady Flames.

Brown moved into 14th place on Liberty's career scoring list, with 917 points through her first two seasons. Meanwhile, Warley extended her Liberty and Big South Conference single-season rebounding record to 363 boards.

Jelena Antic paced the Lady Flames in both rebounds (8) and assists (4). Meanwhile, seniors McLeod and Dymond Morgan chipped in four points apiece, helping the Liberty bench outscore its counterparts from Charlotte, 18-9.

McLeod, Morgan and Kittery Maine closed out their careers on Wednesday, leaving Liberty as the winningest senior class in program history. The Lady Flames have gone 101-30 over the last four seasons.

Dowe complemented Woodson's offensive output for the 49ers with a dozen points and a game-high nine rebounds. Point guard Kendria Holmes added six assists and four steals.