Bailey’s Buzzer-Beating Putback Sinks SIUE, 80-78
Watch a replay of Jordan Bailey’s game-winner on Twitter
Several hours after being named ASUN Player of the Week, Liberty’s Jordan Bailey continued her stellar stretch of play. Her putback from the paint fell through the hoop with 0.1 seconds remaining, giving the Lady Flames a dramatic 80-78 victory over SIUE, Monday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena on day two of the Husky Classic.
Liberty closes non-conference play with a 6-5 record after winning its third straight game, including its second in as many days in Seattle. The Lady Flames trailed for most of the contest and were deadlocked at 78-all before Bailey broke the tie on Liberty’s third shot attempt of the game’s final possession, lifting the team to one of the most dramatic of its 800 all-time victories.
The Lady Flames, who had topped host Washington 66-54 on Sunday for their first-ever win over a Pac-12 foe, finish a regular-season tournament at 2-0 for the third time in the last two seasons.
SIUE falls to 1-9 in its first-ever meeting with Liberty despite leading by eight points in the third quarter and racking up 31 points off the Lady Flames’ 24 turnovers.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Mya Berkman – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 8-10 FG; Emma Hess – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4-6 3FG; Jordan Bailey – 11 points, 7 rebounds; Bella Smuda – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks.
SIUE Individuals: KK Rodriguez – 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 11-12 FT; Molly Sheehan – 17 points, 3-7 3FG; Sofie Lewis – 14 points, 3-7 3FG; Mikayla Kinnard – 12 points; Ajulu Thatha – 7 points, 6 steals.
Key Team Stats: Liberty shot a season-best 57.1 percent (32-of-56) from the field and hit more than half of its three-point tries (54.5 percent, 6-of-11) for the third game in a row. However, the Lady Flames shot just 50 percent (10-of-20) from the free throw line. SIUE hit 44.4 percent (24-of-54) from the field, 35 percent (7-of-20) from long range and 71.9 percent (23-of-32) from the charity stripe. Liberty dominated the paint, outrebounding the Cougars by 22 (41-19), turning 14 offensive boards into 16 second-chance points and racking up 50 points in the paint to SIUE’s 20.
SIUE’s Mikayla Kinnard hit a layup off a beautiful out-of-bounds pass from Sofie Lowis with 8.7 seconds remaining, tying the score at 78 and closing out the Cougars’ 11-2 surge.
Emma Hess drove down the right side of the lane on Liberty’s ensuing possession, but her bank shot bounced off the rim and out. Mya Berkman was there to collect the rebound, but her shot was rejected by the Cougars’ Olivia Clayton. Bailey grabbed the loose ball and tossed it in from the paint, about 10 feet away from the hoop and just in the nick of time.
It was the first time Liberty had won a game in the closing seconds since Devon Brown’s game-winning bank shot with 4.2 seconds left in the 2010 Big South Championship title game against Gardner-Webb.
- Liberty shot 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from the field and won the rebounding battle by an 11-4 count in the opening period but still found itself trailing SIUE, 21-18.
- The Cougars forced eight Lady Flame turnovers and shot 7-of-9 from the line during the first 10 minutes of play.
- The Lady Flames took a pair of brief one-point leads during the second quarter, but Molly Sheehan scored 10 points for SIUE during the stanza. Her shot from close range in the final seconds sent the Cougars to the intermission with a one-point edge, 35-34.
- Emma Hess opened the third quarter with a three-pointer which gave Liberty another brief advantage at 37-35.
- However, the Lady Flames later trailed by as many as eight (50-42) during a period where SIUE got to the foul line 14 times and made nine. The Cougars led 58-54 heading to the final period.
- Liberty outscored SIUE 22-9 to begin the final period, connecting on eight consecutive field goal attempts at one stage. Berkman, who tallied eight points in the fourth quarter, hit a layup with 3:39 to play which provided the Lady Flames their largest lead, 76-67.
- Liberty did not make its next field goal until Bailey’s game-winner as SIUE crafted its aforementioned 11-2 run to even things up once again in a contest which featured three deadlocks and 10 lead changes.
- Liberty finished with 26 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from the field and sinking both of its three-point field goals and both of its free throw attempts.
Notes and Nuggets
- Berkman, who hit her first eight field goal attempts of the afternoon, has now scored 1,080 career points. She passed Brenda Gunsallus for 18th place in program history on Monday.
- Hess scored all 14 of her points after halftime, and her pair of free throw conversions during the final minute marked her first trip to the line all season.
- Named ASUN Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Monday, Bailey has now scored in double figures in four consecutive games for the first time in her career.
- Smuda scored in double digits for the fourth time this season, finishing with 10 points and a season-high three rejections.
- A day after tallying a career-best nine assists against Washington, Kennedi Williams distributed six more on Monday while backup point guard Jordan Hodges added a career-best five assists vs. SIUE. However, both Liberty point guards fouled out during the fourth quarter.
- Dee Brown hit three-of-four foul shots on Monday, but her miss snapped a streak of 13 makes in a row which dated back to Nov. 17 vs. Hampton.
- Liberty, which is playing its 48th season of basketball after fielding its first team in 1975-76 under Head Coach Brenda Bonheim, improves to 800-541 all-time.
- Liberty has now defeated three different opponents for the first time in program history this season (Salem, Washington and SIUE).
- Facing an Ohio Valley Conference opponent for the first time in 18 years, Liberty improved to 2-2 all-time against the OVC.
- The Lady Flames wrap up the month of December with a 4-1 record and have now won 21 of their last 23 December contests.
- Liberty is now 139-3 under Carey Green when shooting 50 percent or better from the field, including 3-0 this season.
- The Lady Flames’ 80 points marked a season high and were their most since the 2021-22 season opener (Nov. 9, 2021), when Liberty topped Belmont Abbey, 89-40, at Liberty Arena.
The Lady Flames will not play again for two weeks, when they tip off their 18-game ASUN Conference schedule with a visit to defending conference champion FGCU (9-2). Tipoff is scheduled for Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. inside Alico Arena.
Featured in Main Photo: Jordan Bailey