No. 1 Liberty Wins 2013 Big South Women's Basketball Title - Mar 11, 2013
CONWAY, S.C. - For the 15th time in the last 17 seasons Liberty claimed the Big South tournament championship, this time the top-seeded Lady Flames downed seventh-seeded Longwood 54-45 in the 2013 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championships final held at The HTC Center in Conway, S.C.
Liberty, 27-6 (16-2 Big South), receives the conference's automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The championship is the 12th for head coach Carey Green , who improved to 38-2 all-time in Big South tournament contests.
The loss ends Longwood's (14-19, 8-10 BSC) inaugural Big South season. Moreover, Longwood's appearance in the Big South tournament final was the first for member institution in their first year of conference play since the 2004 season.
Liberty's Tolu Omotola (6'3''-F/C) finished as the game's leading scorer with 16 points. She was joined in double figures by teammate Ashley Rininger (6'4''-C) with 10. Devon Brown (5'10''-G/F) led all players with 13 boards, including nine on the defensive end.
Chelsea Coward (6'1''-G/F) paced the Lancers with 14 points, including a pair from long range. Coward and Crystal Smith co-led Longwood with seven rebounds. The Lancer starters combined for 34 of the team's 45 points.
Liberty opened the second half on a 14-6 run over the first eight minutes of play, expanding their six-point halftime lead to 14 points. Omotola scored nine points during the run with all but a free throw coming inside the paint. Brown scored on a knifing play to the rim and Brittany Campbell (6'0''-G/F) drained her second trey of the game as the shot clock expired, giving the Lady Flames a 43-29 lead with 11:10 remaining in regulation.
Longwood's Erin Neal scored following a timeout to temporarily slow Liberty's run, but Rininger answered right back with a basket and Katelyn Adams connected on one at the line to push the Lady Flames out to a 46-31 advantage.
Liberty's lead was 10 points, 46-36, with five minutes to play following a pair at the charity stripe and a 3-pointer by the Lancers' Coward. However, the Lancers would not get any closer as Liberty's Sadalia Ellis pushed No. 1 seed's lead back to 12 points on a jumper heading into the final media timeout of the game.
Liberty connected on six at the free-throw line over the final three minutes of the game to salt the game away. Longwood found a pair of treys late in the contest but it was not enough as Liberty claimed the 54-45 decision.
Liberty's Campbell opened the scoring in the contest, knocking down the first of three Lady Flame treys on the first possession of the game. A basket by Campbell and a triple by Omotola put Liberty up 8-5, but the Lancers responded to take a 12-8 lead shortly after the under-16 media timeout. Coward was responsible for each of the Lancers' points during the outburst as she bookended a 3-pointer with two slashing layups in the paint.
Liberty tied the game a few possessions later on a Ellis jumper. The Lady Flames then used their size advantage in the paint to take a 25-18 lead as part of a 19-6 run over 10-plus minutes of play. Omotula scored on a layup with 3:11 to play in the half and that would be the end of Liberty's scoring rally.
As they have all tournament long, the Lancers remained calm and pressured Liberty with their trademark high-pressure defense, forcing a series of turnovers and rushed shots. Longwood took full advantage of Liberty's mistakes and mounted a 5-0 run on a fastbreak layup by Raven Williams and three freebies by Ali, closing the Lady Flames' lead to 27-23 with 1:28 showing on the clock.
Brown, the tournament's MVP, scored her first basket of the game on a putback with just over a minute left in the half, giving Liberty a 29-23 advantage as the teams retreated to their locker rooms for the intermission.
Liberty more than doubled up the Lancers in the rebound category, 33-15, in the first half, including a 13-4 advantage on the offensive end, but the Lady Flames could only muster 16 points in the paint.
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green
"This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. It has been a thrill to be associated with this team and this season class. They were determined to win a championship and we got that done today. We are going to enjoy this one for the next week.
"I want to congratulate a very good Longwood team. Teams want to get hot during March madness and Longwood did just that, they were playing their best basketball at the end of the season."
On the second half of play
"I don't think the team lost their composure at all. We didn't play well at times and turned the ball over and lost some rebounds. But Tolu Omotola and Devin Brown showed great leadership. We were able to weather the runs that Longwood made and come away with a championship."
Longwood Head Coach Bill Reinson
"First off, congratulations to Liberty and head coach Carey Green . Coach Green runs a great program at Liberty and they played tremendous, fundamentally sound basketball all season long. Secondly, we are playing on Sunday in the championship game. We were picked to finish 11th in the league's preseason poll and we proved we were much better than that this season."
On playing four games in five day
"Other than some shots not falling, I don't think playing four games in five day had much impact on us. We played hard today. We were not tired and I don't believe anyone can question the effort of this team today."
All-Big South Tournament
Devon Brown - Liberty (MVP)
Tolu Omotola - Liberty
Brittany Campbell - Liberty
Chelsea Coward - Longwood
Tonisha Baker (5'8''-G-90) - Campbell
Courtesy of BigSouth
Big South Conf. Tournament Final: Liberty - Longwood 54-45
Big South Conf. Tournament Semifinals:
Longwood - Radford 54-51
Liberty - Campbell 70-56
|All-Big South Conf. 1st Team 2012-2013|
Player of the Year: Dequesha McClanahan (5'8''-G-91) of Winthrop
All-Tournament MVP: Devon Brown (5'10''-G/F) of Liberty
Defensive Player of the Year: Cheyenne Parker (6'4''-C-92) of High Point
Freshman of the Year: Schaquilla Nunn (6'3''-C-94) of Winthrop
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Karlee Taylor (5'6''-G-91) of Presbyterian
Coach of the Year: Ronny Fisher of Presbyterian
G: Dequesha McClanahan (5'8''-91) of Winthrop
C: Cheyenne Parker (6'4''-92) of High Point
G/F: Devon Brown (5'10'') of Liberty
G: Tonisha Baker (5'8''-90) of Campbell
F/C: Tolu Omotola (6'3'') of Liberty
C: Mariah Pietrowski (6'2''-91) of Presbyterian
G: Diana Choibekova (5'11''-91) of Winthrop
F: Lakeitha Alston (6'0''-91) of Charleston So.
G: Kiera Gaines (5'11''-93) of Campbell
G: Ashley Buckhannon (5'9''-91) of Radford
Devon Brown (5'10''-G/F) of Liberty
Tolu Omotola (6'3''-F/C) of Liberty
Brittany Campbell (6'0''-G/F) of Liberty
Chelsea Coward (6'1''-G/F) of Longwood
Tonisha Baker (5'8''-G-90) of Campbell
Schaquilla Nunn (6'3''-C-94) of Winthrop
Ashley Rininger (6'4''-C) of Liberty
Aliyah Kilpatrick (5'8''-G-94) of Winthrop
Daeisha Brown (5'3''-G) of Longwood
Candace Brown (5'9''-G-93) of Gardner-Webb
Karlee Taylor (5'6''-G-91) of Presbyterian
Grace Blaylock (5'7''-G) of NC-Asheville
Brittany Campbell (6'0''-G/F) of Liberty
Dequesha McClanahan (5'8''-G-91) of Winthrop
A.J. Jordan (5'8''-G) of Co.Carolina
Casey Elliott (5'9''-G) of Campbell
Erin Neal (5'7''-G) of Longwood
Katherine Brockett (6'1''-G-91) of Radford
Chariah Harris (5'11''-F) of Gardner-Webb
Carra Coy (6'6''-C) of Charleston So.