LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After losing a pair of ASUN matchups at North Florida last weekend, Liberty got back on track Saturday, posting a 76-62 victory in its first-ever meeting with conference newcomer Bellarmine. Emily Lytle became the 18th member of Liberty’s 1,000-point club and was one of the Lady Flames’ five double-digit scorers during the matinee at Freedom Hall.
Liberty (13-5, 9-2 ASUN) displayed its inside-outside attack on Saturday, shooting a season-best 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from three-point range and more than doubling up the Knights in points in the paint (34-16).
Bellarmine (4-12, 4-7 ASUN), in its first year of transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, lost for just the second time in its last six outings. The Knights’ Tasia Jeffries shot 7-of-8 from deep during a 21-point contest, but her team could not recover from being outscored 24-13 during the second quarter.
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Bella Smuda – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocked shots; Priscilla Smeenge – 12 points, 3-3 3FG, 4 rebounds; Mya Berkman – 12 points, 6-7 FG, 5 rebounds, 2 blocked shots; Emily Lytle – 11 points; Ashtyn Baker – 11 points, 3 steals.
Other Bellarmine Individuals: Claire Knies – 9 points, 6 rebounds; Hannah Farrell – 8 points.
Key Team Stats: Liberty shot 46 percent (29-of-63) from the field, as compared with 32.2 percent (19-of-59) for the host Knights. Like the Lady Flames, Bellarmine also shot well from beyond the arc (50 percent, 10-of-20). Liberty outrebounded its seventh straight opponent (43-35), grabbing 16 offensive boards. The Lady Flames totaled 34 bench points.
Jeffries’ second triple of the afternoon had Bellarmine within five (26-21) 7:14 before halftime. Liberty then outscored the Knights 16-8 during the remainder of the half, building its first double-digit lead of the contest.
The extended surge was aided by the three-point play at the 4:22 mark which put Lytle over 1,000 and triples from Baker and Dee Brown.
Liberty’s lead stood at 42-29 at halftime and remained in double digits for all but 1:13 of the second half.
• Bellarmine raced out to a 9-2 lead to begin the contest before Liberty responded with nine straight points. The Lady Flames only trailed for 21 seconds during the remainder of the period and took a two-point edge (18-16) into the second quarter.
• Berkman helped Liberty get off to a strong start with four points, three rebounds and a pair of blocked shots during the opening stanza.
• The Lady Flames outscored Bellarmine 24-13 during the second period, aided by 4-of-4 shooting from the three-point arc.
• Liberty led 42-29 after a first half where the Lady Flames shot 6-of-9 from three-point range and scored 12 points off the Knights’ seven turnovers.
• Liberty’s lead reached 19 (51-32) when Alyssa Iverson hit a pair of free throws at the 6:42 mark of the third period.
• Jeffries hit three triples during Bellarmine’s ensuing 12-0 burst, which cut the Lady Flames’ advantage to 51-44.
• But Liberty held the Knights without a made field goal for the final 3:44 of the stanza, rebuilding a 14-point advantage (61-47) heading to the final period.
• Smuda scored the final five points of an 8-0 Liberty run, including a three-point play at the 3:17 mark which gave the Lady Flames their largest lead at 76-53.
• Bellarmine then scored the game’s last nine points, making Liberty’s final margin of 14 for the Lady Flames’ ninth double-digit victory in ASUN play this season.
Notes and Nuggets
• Lytle became the Lady Flames’ 18th 1,000-point scorer, one game after Baker became the 17th member of the 1,000-point club. Lytle is the first Lady Flame to score 1,000 points during the team’s time in the ASUN Conference.
• The only other season two Lady Flames recorded their 1,000th point during the same year was 1998-99, when twin sisters Sharon and Sarah Wilkerson did so.
• Smuda matched her career high of 15 points and led all players with her nine boards despite playing only 16 minutes.
• Smeenge’s 12 points were her most as a Lady Flame and equaled the most of her collegiate career. She previously scored a dozen points during Michigan’s loss at Marquette on Dec. 2, 2018. Smeenge shot 3-of-3 from long range after making just one of her first seven three-point tries during her first six outings at Liberty.
• Berkman scored in double figures for the ninth time this season after doing so eight times total during her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
• Brown pulled down six rebounds while making the first start of her career at Liberty.
• Saturday’s game marked the first ASUN Conference matchup between Liberty and Bellarmine in any sport.
• Liberty is now 1-1 all-time at Freedom Hall. The Lady Flames’ previous visit to the historic facility resulted in an 83-77 loss to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2010.
Liberty and Bellarmine will square off again on Sunday, tipping off at 2 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.