Liberty overcame a late East Tennessee State rally and a major mistake to hold off the Bucs 89-86 Tuesday night in a nonconference women’s basketball game at Brooks Gym.
The Flames’ victory wasn’t certain until ETSU’s Erica Haynes-Overton bounced a 3-pointer off the rim at the buzzer.
In a matchup of teams with one win apiece, somebody was going to double their victory total. That team turned out to be Liberty, which ended a four-game losing streak and improved to 2-6. ETSU continued a season of frustration and fell to 1-10.
The Bucs cut an 88-76 deficit to 88-84 thanks to six consecutive points by Haynes-Overton. Then things got weird as the officials allowed Liberty to begin an inbounds play with six players on the court. The ensuing technical foul put Carley Lytton on the line and she connected on two, making it 88-86.
The Bucs fouled Emily Lytle, who made one of two free throws.
That gave ETSU the ball back with 15 seconds left, needing a 3-pointer to tie. A frantic possession ended with Haynes-Overton launching a desperation shot from the right wing, and it didn’t connect.
BUCS BY THE NUMBERS
Lytton kept ETSU in the game, going 5 for 8 from 3-point range and scoring a career-high 17 points. She had five 3-pointers all season coming into the game.
Lexus Spears led the Bucs with 19 points, while Kaia Upton had 14 and Haynes-Overton and Britney Snowden had 12 apiece. It was the first time this season that five ETSU players scored in double figures.
The Flames led 49-40 at halftime and ETSU was fortunate the deficit wasn’t more.
Haynes-Overton, the third-leading scorer in the Southern Conference, didn’t score in the first half. She wound up shooting 4 for 16.
Liberty shot 55 percent overall and was led by Lytle’s 21 points. Ashtyn Baker added 18, while Bridgette Rettstatt had 16.
Each team turned the ball over 16 times in the first half, but Liberty was able to overcome the sloppiness by shooting 59 percent over the first two quarters and outrebounding the Bucs 22-11.
The rebounding margin wound up being 47-27. The Bucs committed just two turnovers in the second half.
The Bucs play at UNC Asheville on Sunday at 2 p.m. before returning home Thursday, Dec. 13, to take on North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m.