Liberty Wins 2012 Big South Women's Basketball Title
HIGH POINT, N.C. - Devon Brown scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds to lead No. 1 seed Liberty to an 81-73 comeback win over No. 2 seed High Point and win the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Women's Basketball Championship title Sunday at Millis Center on the campus of High Point University. With the win, the Lady Flames earn their 14th Big South Tournament crown and 14th berth to the NCAA Tournament. High Point falls to 20-12 and will represent the Conference in the WNIT.
In addition to Brown, Tournament MVP Avery Warley had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Reagan Miller had 15 points and eight assists -- the third-most in a Finals game. High Point was led by Erin Reynolds' 27 points and Shamia Brown's 23 markers -- the first time in Finals history that two players from the same team scored 20 points. Cheyenne Parker had 12 rebounds and a Finals-record five blocked shots. Reynolds tied a Finals record with her five three-pointers.
Devon Brown scored 13 points in the second half and keyed Liberty's comeback win the final 10 minutes of the contest. High Point was ahead by six points with 11:21 remaining when Shamia Brown scored on a putback. The Lady Flames began to chip away at the deficit and went ahead 59-56 on Jasmine Gardner's lay-in at 8:06. Reynolds tied it at 59-59 with her fifth triple of the day, but Tolu Omotola put Liberty ahead for good with her layup with 6:48 remaining. Behind Devon Brown, Liberty enjoyed a late double-digit lead to pull away from the Panthers, who were without Parker and Reynolds due to both players fouling out.
Liberty opened the game with an 11-7 lead the first 5:13 behind six points from Warley and five from Devon Brown. High Point stayed within range and trailed just two points with 11:40 remaining, 15-13. Shamia Brown scored 12 of the Panthers' first 13 points by going 6-of-9 from the field the opening nine minutes. Devon Brown had nine points in that same span.
The teams then exchanged points the next 3:19. Laura Whitt tied the game at 15-15 with a putback, but Miller gave Liberty the lead right back with a 12-footer to make it 17-15. Taylor Tremblay's 19-footer tied it yet again, only to see Miller scoop in a layup to make it 19-17. Parker tied it at 19-19 with 8:21 remaining in the first half.
After Liberty went ahead 24-19 with 7:03 remaining in the first period, Reynolds took over and scored High Point's next 16 points to put the Panthers ahead 35-29. She made a three-pointer, recorded a steal and layup, two free throws and another three-pointer to give HPU a four-point advantage at the 3:48 mark. She then added a free throw, field goal and an uncontested three-pointer to make the score 35-29 with 2:05 on the clock.
The Lady Flames pulled to within two points after two Devon Brown free throws and Catherine Kearney's 15-footer, but Whitt drained a three-pointer from the corner for High Point's eventual 38-33 halftime lead.
Reynolds led all first half scorers with 16 points, followed by Shamia Brown's 12 markers. Devon Brown had 11 points to lead Liberty. Warley had six points and seven boards, but played just 10 minutes due to foul trouble. High Point was 15-of-34 from the field (44.1 percent) in the opening stanza, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. Liberty was 12-of-37 for 32.4 percent and made just 2-of-7 three-pointers (28.6).
The second half started much like the first, as Warley scored six-straight points for Liberty to move the Lady Flames within three. Shamia Brown and Reynolds kept High Point ahead at 42-39. High Point remained in control until Liberty grabbed the momentum the final 10 minutes.
In addition to Warley, Devon Brown , Reynolds, Parker and Radford's Da'Naria Erwin Spencer were voted to the All-Tournament Team. Liberty is the first No. 1 seed to win the Championship since 2009, and is now 3-0 against High Point in the title game, having previously won in 2003 and 2006. It was the 13th meeting between No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Championship game, and the No. 1 seed is now 9-4 in the head-to-head match-ups.
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green
"Congrats to High Point. They've had an outstanding year and there's no question that under the current coaching staff that they've worked very hard and their future looks very bright. I think they're deserving to go on to the NIT and I wish them the very best with that. As far as our team, I'm very proud. We have been through some diversities behind the scenes but we're not here to talk about that. They stayed focused and concentrated. This game was a typical game of what we've had to do all year. We have some great players and some great contributions coming off the bench. The efforts they gave and experience they have in the past gave us the opportunity to open the door for this win."
High Point Head Coach Jennifer Hoover
"I'm proud of this team and the effort we gave. I thought we came out and attacked. That overall gave us what we believed and that was important for us. We had the game plan under what we needed and our kids executed. They're a very, very good team and there's a reason they've won as many championships as they have. We are a work in progress and I'm so proud of us and the entire effort we've given."