Liberty’s Second Half too Much for Denver, 82-69
Pioneers give up 54 points in the second half
Dec. 19, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The University of Denver women’s basketball team controlled the first half against Liberty, but the second half was a different story as the Lady Flames pulled away, 82-69.
The Pioneers fell to 7-6 on the 2017-18 campaign, while LU improved to 5-5.
Going into the break, the Crimson and Gold led by nine points, 37-28, but Liberty came out to dominate the second half as they scored 54 points, all while holding DU to only 32. The Lady Flames shot 60 percent (21-for-35) from field-goal range and 43.7 percent (7-for-16) from 3-point territory.
Leading the way for Denver was Claire Gritt who scored a career-high 21 points, going 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from the field and 40 percent (2-for-5) from behind the arc. Two other Pioneers scored in double figures, as Samantha Romanowski added 12 and Briana Johnson chipped in 10.
Johnson led DU in assists with three, and Jordyn Alt led the team with 13 rebounds on top of five points.
As a group, the Crimson and Gold shot 36.2 percent (21-for-58) from the field and 40.7 percent (11-for-27) from downtown. The squad also grabbed 32 rebounds, had 15 assists and forced 11 turnovers.
Denver quickly got things going with back-to-back 3s from Johnson and Romanowski, but the Lady Flames controlled the scoreboard as they answered with 10 of their own points.
Liberty’s offense continued to score in the first, as they built a five-point lead, 14-9 thanks to an 8-3 run.
The Pioneers struck back quickly, and a Lauren Loven trey beat the buzzer at the end of the first to put DU within two.
The Crimson and Gold’s offense kept it rolling to start the second, as a Grace White 3 finished a 12-0 run for Denver.
After LU cut the edge to only two, the Pioneer offense rapidly fired back with a 7-0 run and pushed the score to 27-18. The run was capped by the squad’s sixth triple, this time from Gritt.
With two minutes until the half, Alt connected with one of two from the charity stripe to push the DU margin to 10.
Liberty scored four unanswered points in the final minute to cut the advantage, but Romanowski drained a 3 with five seconds until the break to push the lead back to nine.
At the half, Romanowski led all Pioneers with 10 points. Not far behind were Johnson and Gritt, who each tallied seven.
As a team, the Crimson and Gold shot 37.9 percent (11-for-29) from the field and 43.8 percent (7-for-16) from 3-point territory. The squad grabbed 18 rebounds, handed out eight assists and had six steals.
The Lady Flames started the third hot, igniting an 8-3 run. Denver’s lone basket over the first four minutes was a downtown jumper from Johnson.
Liberty cut the margin to only four, 44-40, with five minutes to play in the third but back-to-back treys from White and Gritt quickly retuned momentum to the Pioneer sidelines.
Refusing to go away, LU’s Ola Makurat connected with a big 3 to cut the lead to only three, with 2 minutes left in the period.
DU’s advantage dropped to only one, 56-55 as Liberty’s Ashtyn Baker started the fourth with a floater. Madison Nelson fired back on the other end with a lay-in; the sophomore also drew a foul but missed the free throw.
The Lady Flames tied the game at 59 thanks to a put-back from Lela Sellers. White was quick to reply for Denver as the freshman made her third triple of the contest.
Back-to-back treys from Baker gave LU the edge, 67-64 with just over four minutes to play. The margin increased to five thanks to another triple from Liberty, but a layup from Gritt with three minutes left made it a one-possession game.
Three points was as close as Denver could get, as the Lady Flames pulled away over the final few minutes.
The Pioneers will look to rebound tomorrow against UMKC, with tip scheduled for 2:30 MT.
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