No. 23 FGCU Tops Liberty in Back-and-Forth Battle for 1st Place
The ASUN Conference’s top two teams battled back and forth before a Liberty Arena women’s basketball-record crowd of 1,631, Thursday evening. In the end, the duo of Kierstan Bell (23 points) and Tishara Morehouse (20 points) helped No. 23 FGCU pull out a 69-61 victory.
Liberty falls to 25-3 overall and 13-2 in the ASUN, with the two conference losses coming at the hands of the Eagles by a combined 12 points. The Lady Flames shot just 3-of-9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and committed 17 turnovers for the game. As a result, they saw several winning streaks halted, including a 10-game overall streak, an 11-game home winning streak, and a 20-game home winning streak versus ASUN foes.
Held mostly in check for the first 30 minutes, FGCU (25-2, 14-1 ASUN) exploded for a 26-point fourth quarter with Bell and Morehouse combining for 17 of those points. The Eagles improve to 10-0 with their nation-leading 30th consecutive road win. The first visiting ASUN team ever to win at Liberty Arena (in 16 tries), FGCU clinches the No. 1 seed in the East Division for the upcoming ASUN Women’s Basketball Championship.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Bridgette Rettstatt – 15 points, 13 rebounds; Alyssa Iverson – 13 points, 3 assists; Mya Berkman – 10 points, 7 rebounds.
FGCU Individuals: Bell – 23 points, 4-11 3FG, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals; Morehouse – 20 points, 6 assists, 3 steals; Emma List – 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; Karli Seay – 8 points, 5 rebounds; 3 assists.
Key Team Stats: Both teams got to the foul line rather often, with FGCU shooting 74.1 percent (20-of-27) and Liberty finishing at 57.7 percent (15-of-26). The Eagles made nine three-pointers to Liberty’s four. The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle (42-28) and scored 20 bench points to FGCU’s nine. The Eagles blocked seven Liberty shot attempts on the night.
Alyssa Iverson split a pair of free throws with 2:46 to play, knotting up the game at 58-58.
FGCU then seized control with an 8-0 run. Morehouse shot five-of-six at the foul line during the pivotal surge, and Bell knocked down a back-breaking three-pointer from the left wing that doubled the visitors’ lead from three to six (64-58) with 1:03 remaining.
- FGCU jumped out to a 15-6 lead, aided by two triples and four early Liberty turnovers.
- The Lady Flames’ Priscilla Smeenge and Alyssa Iverson responded with back-to-back triples, sparking a 10-3 Liberty run to end the quarter. FGCU was on top 18-16 after 10 minutes of play.
- Liberty held FGCU scoreless for the first 6:34 of the second quarter, scoring the period’s first 10 points to build a 26-18 advantage.
- The Lady Flames did not make a field goal for the remainder of the opening half. During that time, the Eagles posted a 12-2 run. Tishara Morehouse beat the halftime buzzer with a layup that sent the visitors to the intermission on top, 30-28.
- Kierstan Bell scored seven points over the third quarter’s first six minutes, including a layup which extended the Eagles’ cushion to 42-34.
- The Lady Flames used a 7-1 period-ending surge to close the gap to 43-41 heading to the final stanza.
- Limited to three points on 1-of-7 from the field during the first three periods, Bridgette Rettstatt exploded for a dozen fourth-quarter points for the Lady Flames.
- However, the Lady Flames did not get enough defensive stops to get over the hump. FGCU posted 26 fourth-quarter points on 60 percent (6-of-10) from the field, 66.7 percent (4-of-6) from beyond the arc and 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from the foul line.
Notes and Nuggets
- Reigning ASUN Player of the Week Rettstatt notched her fourth double-double of the season, the 12th of her career and the third she has recorded against FGCU all-time. Her 13 rebounds equaled both her season high and the Liberty Arena record she co-holds with teammate Berkman.
- During the game, Rettstatt leapfrogged Kristal Tharp and Sharon Snodgrass on Liberty’s career scoring list, moving into 11th place with 1,174 points. She also passed Devon Brown on the rebounding chart and now ranks No. 9 with 807 boards.
- Iverson’s 13 points off the bench marked her second-highest scoring output of the season.
- One day before her 22nd birthday, Berkman scored in double figures for the fifth straight game and became the 17th Lady Flame ever to pull down 600 career rebounds.
- Thursday marked the Lady Flames’ 36th straight loss to a Top 25 opponent since their win over No. 16 DePaul on March 22, 2005.
- Liberty finishes the regular season with a 14-2 home record and is now 26-2 in two seasons at Liberty Arena.
Liberty will travel to Georgia for its regular-season finale on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. at the KSU Convocation Center for the Lady Flames’ clash with Kennesaw State (9-17, 5-10 ASUN). Liberty will attempt to complete a season sweep of the Owls after posting a 68-58 home win on Jan. 8.