Liberty Tops FGCU 88-78 in OT for 1st-Ever Win Over Eagles
After trailing FGCU 73-68 with 26 seconds left in regulation, Saturday night at Liberty Arena, Liberty outscored the Eagles 20-5 the rest of the way to pull out an 88-78 overtime victory, the Lady Flames’ first-ever triumph over ASUN-leading FGCU.
The stars were many for Liberty, as Emma Hess hit a game-tying three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation, Dee Brown blocked a shot as the final buzzer of regulation sounded and Kennedi Williams scored eight of her career-high 24 points in overtime.
Liberty improves to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in ASUN play with its seventh straight home win and its first victory over FGCU in 12 tries. The Lady Flames shot 56.7 percent (34-of-60) from the field and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from three-point range in a game which saw seven ties and 18 lead changes.
FGCU’s 10-game winning streak was halted despite a Liberty Arena record-tying 27 points from Tishara Morehouse and 24 more from Sophia Stiles. The Eagles (18-3, 6-1 ASUN) lost their first ASUN road game since Feb. 1, 2018 at North Florida. FGCU had won its last 38 consecutive ASUN road tilts prior to Saturday.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Williams – 24 points, 6 assists; Mya Berkman – 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 9-11 FG; Brown – 12 points, 8 rebounds; Pien Steenbergen – 11 points, 3-3 3FG.
FGCU Individuals: Morehouse – 27 points, 5-8 3FG; Stiles – 24 points, 3-5 3FG, 7-7 FT; Sha Carter – 13 points, 8 rebounds.
Key Team Stats: As usual, FGCU shot well from three-point range (12-of-32 for 37.5 percent). However, the Eagles struggled from the field (25-of-66 for 37.9 percent) and the foul line (16-of-25 for 64 percent). Liberty dominated the points in the paint (48-26) and bench points (25-6) categories while also outscoring FGCU in points off turnovers (19-15).
After the dramatic close to regulation, Liberty scored the first five points of overtime, taking a lead it never relinquished.
Appropriately, Williams got things started with a driving layup on the Lady Flames’ opening possession of their first overtime contest this season. She ended up personally outscoring FGCU, 8-5, during the extra period.
- Mya Berkman scored two quick hoops to start the game before FGCU fashioned an 18-6 surge over the next 5:42. The Eagles knocked down three triples during that time, including one by Uju Ezeudu which gave the visitors an 18-10 advantage at the 3:04 mark.
- Led by Sophia Stiles’ eight points, FGCU took a 20-14 lead into the second quarter.
- Aided by Dee Brown’s seven points, Liberty shot 72.7 percent (8-of-11) during the second quarter and pulled within one point twice.
- But Stiles added nine more points for the Eagles, giving her 17 first-half tallies and FGCU a 37-34 halftime edge.
- Kennedi Williams scored Liberty’s first nine points to start the second half, as the Lady Flames connected on their first five shot attempts coming out of halftime. Pien Steenbergen hit three consecutive triples off the bench, helping the Lady Flames take four separate one-point leads.
- However, Sha Carter contributed eight points and five rebounds as FGCU went back in front 56-54 through three periods.
- Morehouse tallied nine fourth-quarter points for the visitors, splitting a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left to put FGCU up by five.
- Brown’s putback off an offensive board and Hess’ clutch game-tying triple from the top of the key enabled Liberty to tie things up.
- Liberty was nearly flawless during the extra five minutes, making four-of-five field goals and seven-of-eight at the line. Meanwhile, FGCU missed six of its seven field goal tries and two of its four foul shots.
Notes and Nuggets
- 20 of Williams’ career-high 24 points came after halftime. She also dished out a game-high six assists for her fourth straight game of 5+ helpers and her eighth in the last nine outings.
- Berkman made her first eight field goal attempts of the evening before missing, wrapping up a string of 16 makes in a row over the past three contests. She has now scored in double digits in nine straight games.
- Berkman, who was honored during a pregame ceremony with a game ball commemorating her 1,000th career point, moved into 11th place in program history with 1,181 career tallies. She moved past Ginny Holloway and Sharon Snodgrass on Saturday.
- Brown matched her season high with 12 points. She played 40 minutes, 27 seconds, making her the first Lady Flame to play over 40 minutes since Jan. 3, 2021, when Ashtyn Baker (45) and Emily Lytle (41) both did so against Lipscomb in the first overtime contest in Liberty Arena history.
- Steenbergen went 3-for-3 from three-point range while tying her career high of 11 points. She is now shooting 18 of her last 29 from three-point range after beginning the year 5-of-25.
- Liberty had lost its ASUN opener by a 70-53 score at FGCU 19 days earlier. That was the Eagles’ smallest margin of victory in ASUN play this season entering Saturday’s matchup.
- The Lady Flames are now 35-3 all-time at Liberty Arena, including 20-1 against ASUN foes and 3-0 in overtime.
- Liberty improves to 143-3 under Carey Green when shooting 50 percent or better from the field, including 7-0 this year.
- The Lady Flames, who trailed by as many as 10 points during the second quarter, have now erased double-digit deficits twice for momentous victories this season. Liberty trailed Washington by 13 on Dec. 18 before coming back to record its first-ever Pac-12 win.
- The game was played before a season-high and boisterous crowd of 1,242 on Alumni Night and Carey Green Bobblehead Night at Liberty Arena.
The Lady Flames will head to Tennessee for the next two contests, beginning with their first-ever meeting with ASUN newcomer and conference co-leader Austin Peay (11-6, 6-1 ASUN) on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern inside the Winfield Dunn Center in Clarksville, Tenn.
Featured in Main Photo: #20 Mya Berkman