Saturday, December 31, 2011

Liberty survives 39 turnovers, downs Radford in Big South opener

Saturday's games

Liberty 76, Radford 68: How do you commit 39 turnovers - and surrender 42 points off those turnovers - and still win a basketball game? Until a couple of hours ago, we thought the only answer to that question was, you can't. Shows what we know. It helped that Liberty shot 60.5 from the field, dominated the glass (41-23 rebounding edge) and made its free throws (the Lady Flames' last 13 points came from the line) down the stretch. The game turned early in the second half when a Devon Brown jumper snapped a 34-34 tie and kicked off a 16-0 Liberty run. And the Lady Flames needed that kind of cushion as Highlanders star Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led a furious Radford rally that closed the deficit to six. Erwin Spencer scored all 12 of her points in the final 4:45. Ashley Buckhannon finished with a career high 25 points for Radford (6-6, 0-1 Big  South). Brown paced Liberty (6-6, 1-0) with 19 points, freshman point guard Reagan Miller offset her 11 turnovers with 16 points, Avery Warley had 14 points and 10 boards and LaKendra Washington chipped in 10 points as 283 fans saw the Lady Flames pull off something that almost doesn't seem possible. I mean, 39 turnovers, against a Division I team, and you still win? Get out of here.

Other notes:

- The loss was Radford's first in its last 7 Big South openers;

- Eight of the nine Lady Flames that played committed at least three turnovers;

- Five Highlanders had at least three steals (The team finished with 25, Sarah Tabb led the way with seven).

- Liberty's 39 turnovers tied their most as a Division I program. The Lady Flames also had 39 against UNC Asheville on Jan. 13, 1996.

- Warley needs just three rebounds to pass Katie Feenstra (1,033) for the most in program history.

In Saturday's other game:

Appalachian State 64, Longwood 54: Final score aside, this was actually an encouraging effort for the Lancers, who after falling behind by 25 late in the first half scored the final five points before intermission, then outscored the Mountaineers by 10 over the final 20 minutes. Crystal Smith scored 16 of her team-high 20 points after the break and Brittanni Billups added 14 for the Lancers (2-13), who will play at home for the first time in eight games Monday against Coppin State. Anna Freeman had 18 points and became the 21st Appalachian State player to crack the 1,000-point barrier. Freshman Maryah Sydnor, who originally committed to Longwood, had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 11 minutes for AppState (9-2).

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