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    Fast Start Fuels Liberty’s 81-66 Victory over Jacksonville

    Jan 8, 2023 | Lynchburg Va | Women's Basketball

    Head Coach Carey Green Postgame Presser

    Jordan Bailey and Mya Berkman Postgame Presser

    Liberty dominated Jacksonville by a 25-4 score during the first quarter of Sunday’s matinee at Liberty Arena. That sent the Lady Flames well on their way to a wire-to-wire 81-66 win, their fifth consecutive home triumph.

    Liberty closes out the opening week of ASUN play at 8-6 overall and 2-1 in conference action after putting four players into double figures and posting a season-high point total. The Lady Flames have now won nine consecutive meetings with the Dolphins, improving to 9-1 in the all-time head-to-head series.

    Jacksonville falls to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in the ASUN with its second consecutive setback overall and its fourth in a row on the road. The Dolphins finished at 39.3 percent (22-of-56) from the field and were outrebounded by a 41-30 count.

    Box Score Highlights
    Liberty Individuals: Mya Berkman – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 6-7 FG; Bella Smuda – 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks; Jordan Bailey – 14 points, 4 rebounds; Pien Steenbergen – 11 points, 4 rebounds, 5-5 FT.

    Jacksonville Individuals: DeShari Graham – 15 points, 3-6 3FG; Shynia Jackson – 12 points, 5 rebounds; Zaria Blake – 12 points; Seraphine Bastin – 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists.

    Key Team Stats: Liberty shot exactly 50 percent (32-of-64), scoring nearly half (40 of 81) of its points inside the paint. The Lady Flames posted 38 bench points, with 10 different Lady Flames scoring on the day. Liberty converted Jacksonville’s 13 turnovers into 19 points and scored 13 second-chance tallies off 10 offensive boards. The Dolphins fared well from three-point range, hitting 8-of-21 for 38.1 percent.

    Turning Point
    Shynia Jackson knocked down a triple from the top of the key, pulling the visiting Dolphins within 6-4 at 6:55 of the first quarter.

    That proved to be Jacksonville’s only made field goal of the period, as the Dolphins missed their next nine attempts. During that drought, Liberty took control with a 19-0 run.

    Berkman scored nine straight points by herself before Steenbergen came off the bench for six tallies of her own late in the period. As a result, the Lady Flames took a 21-point advantage (25-4) into the second period. Jacksonville got no closer than 15 the rest of the afternoon.

    Game Summary
    First Quarter

    • Liberty took a 25-4 lead after 10 minutes of play, closing out the first quarter with the aforementioned 19-0 run. Jacksonville missed its last nine field goal attempts to finish 1-of-13 (7.7) from the floor for the stanza.

     Second Quarter

    • Zaria Blake tallied seven second-quarter points, helping the Dolphins post 17 as a team.
    • However, six different Lady Flames found the scoring column, including Audrey Clark, whose floater at the halftime buzzer extended Liberty’s lead to 46-21. The Lady Flames shot 56.7 percent (17-of-30) during their highest-scoring first half since the 2021-22 season opener against Belmont Abbey (47 points).

     Third Quarter

    • Aided by DeShari Graham’s seven points and Jacksonville’s 6-of-6 effort from the foul line, the Dolphins trimmed two points off their deficit during the third quarter. Liberty took a 23-point advantage (65-42) to the final period.

    Fourth Quarter

    • Jacksonville outscored Liberty, 24-16, over the final 10 minutes. The Dolphins knocked down four triples and forced seven Lady Flame turnovers during the stanza.

    Notes and Nuggets

    • Berkman led all players with 16 points despite playing only 19 minutes. She passed Pam Wilder for 16th place in program history, finishing the game with 1,125 career points.
    • The national leader in field goal percentage (69.5) entering the day, Berkman made six of her seven field goal attempts. She wrapped up a streak of 11 consecutive field goal makes which dated back to Monday’s ASUN opener at FGCU.
    • Fellow center Smuda set season highs for points (15) and rebounds (8), while matching her season high of three blocked shots.
    • Steenbergen’s 11 points tied her career high. She hit 2-of-5 from behind the arc and is now 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from distance over her last six games.
    • Redshirt freshman Breya Busby, a cancer survivor, scored her first two collegiate points on a driving layup with 1:15 to play in the fourth quarter.
    • Liberty’s five-game home winning streak improves the Lady Flames to 6-1 all-time at home against Jacksonville, 5-1 at Liberty Arena this season and 33-3 all-time at the facility.
    • The Lady Flames improved to 4-0 this season and 140-3 under Carey Green when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
    • Liberty will face Jacksonville again on Saturday, squaring off with the Dolphins at Swisher Gymnasium.

    Up Next
    The Lady Flames will head to Jacksonville for their next two contests. The Sunshine State swing will begin Thursday with a visit to North Florida (4-9, 1-2 ASUN). Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. inside UNF Arena.

    Featured in Main Photo: #31 Bella Smuda