Saturday, March 12, 2011

Warley powers Liberty to Big South final

Ever since Liberty's Avery Warley didn't get the Big South Player award we felt she deserved, we've been pulling for the Lady Flames star to dominate the league tournament - to help Liberty of course, but also to prove our point.

So it is with great pleasure that we report that Warley lit up No. 4 High Point for 28 points and 13 rebounds Saturday to lead Liberty to a 76-55 victory and their 14th Big South title game in 15 years.

Now, we know Warley isn't going off just to make us look good. Still, thanks, Avery, just the same.

The Lady Flames will meet familiar nemesis Gardner-Webb, the No. 3 seeds, in Sunday's 4 p.m. title game (MASN, Fox College Sports Atlantic). These two teams will be meeting in the final for the third straight year, and the previous two title games have been classics. Last season, Devon Brown's bank shot with 4.2 seconds left lifted the Lady Flames to a 68-66 victory. Two years ago, Gardner-Webb's Dominique Hudson had a shot rim out in the closing seconds as Liberty escaped 51-50.

On Saturday, Warley helped ensure Liberty's spot in the final with arguably her best performance as a Lady Flame. The 28 points were a career high, and the junior got them by making 12 of 14 field goals and all 4 of her free throws. She also tied a career high with 4 blocks, and her 13 rebounds gave Warley her 18th double-double of the season.

In addition, Warley became the 13th Liberty player to crack the 1,000 career points mark.

Jelena Antic added 16 points and 7 rebounds for Liberty, Devon Brown chipped in 13 points and 4 assists and Tolu Omatola contributed 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks for Liberty (22-9), which has won four straight and 13 of its last 14 games.

Gardner-Webb (22-10), which defeated No. 7 Winthrop 59-44 in Saturday's semifinals, has also won four in a row. As they have for the past month, the Runnin' Bulldogs will play without Old Dominion transfer Sierra Little, who appeared in 12 games for Gardner-Webb but hasn't played since Feb. 5. Little is no longer listed on the Gardner-Webb roster.

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