Auburn Hangs On For 70-64 Win Over The Liberty Flames
Dec. 15, 2009
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team (7-3) held off a second-half surge to claim a 70-64 victory over the Liberty Flames (6-2) Tuesday evening at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Auburn extended its winning streak to four games, handing the defending Big South champions their second loss of the season in the process.
Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf led the Tigers in scoring, tying he career high of 17. Greenleaf also posted a team-high seven rebounds.
"I thought it was a really good game for us coming off a 10-day break," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "We did an outstanding job on the boards, which is something we had to do because Liberty is such a good rebounding team."
Liberty entered the game out-rebounding its opponents by an average 15.0 per game, but Auburn was able to control the boards, finishing with a 34-23 advantage. All eight players that saw the floor pulled down at least one rebound. Senior KeKe Carrier trailed Greenleaf with six while sophomore Chantel Hilliard pulled down five.
Hilliard and junior Alli Smalley also scored in double digits, adding 14 and 12 points, respectively. Smalley led the Tigers from behind the arc with all of her points coming from three-point land.
"I thought we came out really energetic, focused and very aggressive," said Greenleaf. "We attacked them and I think the way we started off really shook them up. We had a couple of let-downs, but overall we stayed poised and composed."
The game was tightly contested for the opening seven minutes with neither team able to gain anything more than a four-point advantage. With the score 14-13 at the 12:55 mark, the Tigers opened up on an eight-point run capped by back-to-back Smalley 3-pointers.
Auburn slowly built its lead as the first period wore on. The Tigers were up by 11 with 35 seconds remaining in the half when Auburn sophomore Blanche Alverson drained a three following a Liberty turnover, giving the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 14 points. Alverson earned her first collegiate start in the game, scoring nine points while added four rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Auburn was able to maintain its double-digit lead for the opening seven minutes of the second half before the Flames began to slowly chip away at the Tiger lead. When Liberty came to within three at the four-minute mark, Fortner subbed in senior Carrier to re-gain control in the paint. The Flames out-scored Auburn 42-20 in the paint with 28 of those points coming in the second half.
The Tigers built the lead back to eight, but a pair of Devon Brown 3-pointers brought Liberty back to within three with less than a minute left to play. With the Flames resulting to fouls to get the ball back, the Tigers went on their best free throw shooting run of the night, converting seven-of-eight from the charity stripe in the final 49 seconds to seal the victory.
Green leaf and Hilliard both stepped up big offensively for the Tigers in the second half, each posting double digits while holding off the Flames. Hilliard scored 12 of her 14 in the second half while 11 of Greenleaf's 17 came in the final period. All nine of Morgan Toles' points came in the second half.
As a team, the Tigers were 24-of-50 from the field, six-of-17 from three-point land and 16-of-23 from the line.
"We though, with the exception of three players, Auburn doesn't shoot the ball very well from the free throw line," said Liberty head coach Carey Green. "Tonight they made them.
"Hopefully we learned some lessons from this game. I have to make some adjustments with which players you see on the floor. Rebounding was the difference in the game."
Liberty finished the game 25-of-51 from the field, two-of-seven from three-point range and 12-of-13 from the stripe. Brown, a redshirt freshman, led the Flames with 19 points and eight rebounds. Amber Mays scored 18 while Avery Warley added 10.
The Tigers return to action at 2 p.m., Sunday in Mobile, Ala., taking on the South Alabama Jaguars (4-5) at the Mitchell Center.
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