Memphis Deals Lady Flames 1st Loss at Liberty Arena, 53-51
For the third game in a row, Liberty found itself in a nail-biter, Tuesday evening against Memphis. Unlike the last two contests, the Lady Flames came out on the short end of a 53-51 score as the Tigers became the first visiting basketball team (men’s or women’s) to win a game at Liberty Arena.
Maya Stovall’s jumper with 2:03 to play produced the game’s ninth and final lead change. Liberty had two chances to tie the game and send it to overtime during the final four seconds, but neither shot fell and the Lady Flames drop to 3-1. Liberty saw its 20-game home winning streak snapped, including a 15-0 mark in two seasons at Liberty Arena.
Memphis improves to 4-1 with its first road win of the season and its second narrow victory over Liberty in as many years. Jamirah Shutes scored a game-high 16 points for the Tigers, who have now matched last season’s win total already.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Mya Berkman – 14 points, 5 rebounds; Priscilla Smeenge – 9 points, 5 rebounds; Dee Brown – 8 points, 3 assists, 3 steals.
Memphis Individuals: Shutes – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3-6 3FG; Stovall – 9 points, 3 assists; Makaiya Brooks – 8 points, 2-4 3FG.
Key Team Stats: The two teams both shot 37.7 percent (20-of-53) from the field and each hit five triples. Memphis was 8-of-11 at the foul line to Liberty’s 6-of-10. The Tigers became the first team to outrebound Liberty this season (37-31) and also became the first opponent to score more bench points than the Lady Flames (25-13).
With Memphis trailing for the first time in the fourth quarter, Stovall and Emani Jefferson connected on hoops on back-to-back possessions. Their baskets gave the Tigers a 53-50 lead with 1:16 to play.
Berkman split a pair of free throws 20 seconds later, but Liberty was unable to force overtime during the game’s waning seconds.
- Liberty held Memphis scoreless for 4:09 to start the contest, building an early 7-0 advantage.
- The Lady Flames remained in front throughout the opening period, leading by as many as eight on their way to a 15-8 cushion through 10 minutes of play. Dee Brown scored seven first-quarter points for the home team.
- Memphis began the second quarter with an 11-0 run, taking a 19-15 lead after back-to-back triples from Makaiya Brooks and Jamirah Shutes.
- Aided by four three-pointers, Memphis outscored the Lady Flames 20-6 during the second stanza, taking a 28-21 lead into the intermission. Shutes led all players with 13 points during the opening half.
- Memphis did not make a field goal for the first 5:11 of the second half, enabling Liberty to briefly reclaim the lead at 31-30 on Priscilla Smeenge’s corner triple.
- That was the first of six lead changes during the stanza. Memphis emerged with a 41-39 edge after Brooks’ long trifecta during the final minute of the period, despite the Lady Flames’ 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
- Berkman scored the final five points of Liberty’s 7-2 surge, putting the home team in front 50-49 on a free throw with 3:35 left. But the Lady Flames managed just one more point the rest of the way.
Notes and Nuggets
- Berkman led the Lady Flames in scoring for the third straight game and has now scored in double figures in all four contests to start the season.
- Smeenge scored six of her season-high nine points in the fourth quarter.
- Liberty’s last three games have been decided by a total of 10 points, also including a 66-63 win over Ohio on Nov. 13 and a 66-61 (OT) victory over James Madison on Thursday.
- Prior to Tuesday, Liberty’s basketball teams were a combined 29-0 at Liberty Arena since the facility opened its doors on Dec. 1, 2020.
- Liberty’s 20-game home winning streak ranks as the fourth-longest streak in program history. The Lady Flames had not lost in Lynchburg since a Feb. 1, 2020 setback to FGCU at the Vines Center.
- The Lady Flames fall to 1-5 all-time against American Athletic Conference (AAC) opponents.
- Carey Green remains at 498 career victories at Liberty and will look to reach 500 during this weekend’s Navy Classic.
Liberty will take to the road for the first time this season, playing a pair of games at the Navy Classic, Saturday and Sunday. The Lady Flames will face the host Midshipmen (2-3) in the tournament’s opening game, Saturday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md.