Trojan Comeback Falls Short, Drops to Liberty 69-66

Box Score

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A late rally fell short as Anderson University women’s basketball was defeated by Division I and Big South Conference power Liberty 69-66 in AU’s final exhibition of the season Thursday afternoon at the Vines Center.

Three players found themselves in double figures in the scoring column as sophomore Katie Davis notched a team-high 14 points, two points away from her career-high. Junior Sierra Simpson and freshman Heather Jankowy each posted 12 points apiece, as Jankowy went 4-of-6 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, reaching a would-be career-high. Sophomore Jennifer Monroe notched a team-high eight rebounds.

Despite the height advantage in favor of the Flames with three players over 6-foot-4, the Trojans outrebounded LU in the second period 23-19. Monroe posted seven of her rebounds in the final half.

Aside from Liberty's redshirt sophomore Ashley Rininger’s double-double (23 points, 13 rebounds), fellow post player Katelyn Adams and substitute Jaymee Fisher-Davis each recorded 11 points. After shooting 42.9 percent in the opening half, Liberty was just 11-for-31 (35.5) in the final period, as the Trojans outscored LU 37-27 in the second half.

“I was really proud of our team this afternoon,” head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “There are not too many teams in the country that have their height and we outrebounded and outscored them in the second half. I feel really good about getting better as a team. Liberty is well-coached and this game came down to just a couple of possessions. We should leave this game feeling confident as a team.”

With the teams swapping the lead throughout the opening half, Anderson took its biggest advantage of the game at the 17-11 mark when sophomore Madison Floyd banked in a 15-foot jump shot from the wing, marking two of her 7 points.

Despite the lead, the Flames came back in a hurry and eventually scored 31 points in the final 12 minutes of the half, pushing out a 42-29 lead into halftime. In both of Anderson’s exhibitions of the season, AU has given up 40 or more points for the first half, compared to its highest of the regular season of 34.

Liberty jumped out to a 7-0 run to begin the second half, as a 3-pointer from junior Lesley Woods stopped the Flame scoring streak and closed the gap to 19 with 16:56 left. Woods would finish the game with seven points, connecting on two 3-pointers.

Facing a 20-point deficit with 14:51 left, the Trojans slowly started to chip away at the LU lead, started by a trey from Willoughby. The Willoughby basket began a 9-2 run, capped off by a jumper by Davis.

Anderson eventually cut the Flame lead to four when Woods found Jankowy in the corner for a much-needed trey. After Adams made 1-of-2 free throws on the ensuing possession, AU recorded back-to-back lay-ups from Simpson and Jankowy to bring Anderson within one point at the 4:14 mark.

The Trojans got the lead back after Davis dropped in a mid-range jumper with 3:42 left, making the score 61-60.

Unable to hang on to its narrow margin, Liberty countered with a 7-0 run, headlined by a key trey from Fisher-Davis, her third of the night, from the wing and gave LU a 67-61 lead. After trading buckets in the final minute, Simpson hit a long-range 3-pointer at the horn to bring the final score to 69-66.

The setback will not count against the Trojans, as they wrapped up their exhibition schedule. Liberty, which also counted the contest as an exhibition, survived its narrowest win of the season, as the Flames have wins over Division I opponents Savannah State (89-79), Richmond (76-61) and Radford (70-49).

The Trojans return to their regular season schedule on Monday, Dec. 16 when they head to Peach Belt Conference foe Georgia College. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.

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