Liberty wins nailbiter with VCU

Liberty squandered a 13-point halftime lead Tuesday evening at VCU, but later came back from a five-point second-half deficit to win at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Lady Flames’ 59-57 victory marked their first road triumph of the season.

Waynesboro High School graduate Devon Brown scored Liberty’s final four points, including a pair of free throws in the final 12 seconds that helped seal the win. She finished with 10 points, making her one of three Lady Flames to score in double figures on the night. Liberty’s balanced effort overcame a 26-point, 15-rebound night by the Rams’ Courtney Hurt, the nation’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer.

Liberty, which snaps a two-game losing skid, improves to 4-6 on the season. Meanwhile, VCU drops to 4-5 after falling to its first Big South opponent of the year in three contests against Liberty’s conference foes. The Rams had previously defeated High Point and Winthrop.

The homestanding Rams took their first lead of the game with a 10-0 second-half surge fueled by a pair of Jacqueline Brewer three-pointers, the second a bank shot as the shot clock expired with 10:54 to play that put VCU up by a 46-41 count. The Rams only made two field goals the rest of the way, though, both of which came in the game’s final minute, but VCU still maintained a 50-46 edge with 5:28 left, though, before Liberty began its decisive 9-0 run. Four different Lady Flames scored during the surge, which was punctuated by Avery Warley’s old-fashioned three-point play at the 2:52 mark. When the redshirt junior’s free throw found the bottom of the net, Liberty was back on top, 55-50.

Brown and Hurt exchanged points during the final 75 seconds, beginning with a Brown layup which made it 57-52, Liberty. Hurt’s three-pointer with 49.1 seconds on the clock trimmed VCU’s deficit to 57-55. After a Liberty turnover, the Rams had two shots to either tie the game or take the lead. They misfired on both, and Brown grabbed a key defensive rebound. After being fouled, Brown pushed Liberty’s lead back to three points by splitting a pair of free throws. Hurt cut the Lady Flame edge to one, 58-57, with a driving layup, but only 2.8 seconds remained. Liberty successfully got the ball inbounds to Brown, who wrapped up the hard-fought victory by again making one of two foul shots.

Jelena Antic and Emily Frazier joined Brown in double digits for the Lady Flames, tallying 12 points apiece. Antic completed her first double-double of the season with 10 rebounds and also distributed a team-high five assists. Frazier’s career-high scoring output was complemented by four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

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