Liberty rolls past Norfolk State 76-53 to open new arena

Virginia Sports

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The host Lady Flames opened Liberty Arena in style Tuesday evening with an impressive 76-53 triumph over Norfolk State. Ashtyn Baker’s three-pointer during the opening minute gave Liberty a lead it never relinquished, and fellow senior Bridgette Rettstatt scored a game-high 22 points during the first athletic event ever contested at the brand-new facility.

Liberty (1-2) picked up its first win of the 2020-21 season with a true team effort. Ten different Lady Flames scored points, and the team recorded 26 assists on 30 made field goals for their highest assist total since Jan. 26, 2013.

MEAC North Division favorite Norfolk State falls to 1-2 on the season and 1-9 all-time against Liberty. The Spartans shot just 24.6 percent (15-of-61) from the field and committed 20 turnovers.

Box Score Highlights

Liberty Individuals: Rettstatt – 22 points, 5 rebounds; Mya Berkman – 12 points, 9 rebounds; Baker – 11 points, 3-3 3FG; Kennedi Williams – 8 assists

Norfolk State Individuals: Jalynn Holmes – 15 points, 5 rebounds; Mangela Ngandjui – 10 points, 7 rebounds.

Key Team Stats: Aided by 40 points in the paint, Liberty shot 43.5 percent (30-of-69), including 57.7 percent (15-of-26) after halftime. The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle (48-42) and scored a season-high 42 bench points.

Turning Point

Baker’s three-pointer from the top of the key on the Lady Flames’ first trip to the offensive end ignited a game-opening 7-0 burst for the home team which set the tone for the remainder of the contest.

Game Summary

First Quarter

• Liberty led throughout the opening stanza, getting assists on all eight of its made baskets including three by Williams. The Lady Flames’ advantage stood at 18-14 through 10 minutes of play.

Second Quarter

• Liberty post players accounted for every point of the Lady Flames’ 10-1 run to begin the second period. Rettstatt scored six of the points, including a layup at 5:27 which extended the home team’s lead to 13 (28-15).

• The Lady Flames took that same margin (35-22) into the locker room following an opening half where they dominated the interior. Liberty outrebounded the Spartans 27-18 and racked up 24 points in the paint to the visitors’ six.

Third Quarter

• Liberty really broke the game open with a 14-0 run early in the third period, sparked by eight Baker points. The Lady Flames held Norfolk State without a made field goal for 6:09 to start the half, building a 49-23 cushion.

• For the quarter, Liberty outscored the visitors 25-8, doubling the Spartans up on the scoreboard (60-30) heading to the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

• The Lady Flames took their largest lead of the night (67-33) on Nenna Lindstrom’s triple with 7:35 to play in the contest.

• Norfolk State enjoyed its best offensive quarter during the final period, scoring nearly half (11 of 23) of its points from the foul line.

Notes and Nuggets

• The first player to score 20+ points in arena history, Rettstatt recorded her fourth career 20-point game and first since March 2, 2019 at NJIT.

• Berkman just missed her first career double-double by one rebound, while matching her career high of three assists.

• Baker is now 9-of-12 from three-point range in three career meetings with Norfolk State, headlined by her career-high five triples in the 2019-20 season opener at NSU.

• Williams’ eight assists doubled her previous career high of four.

• Emily Lytle saw one streak halted and another continue. She was held without a three-pointer for the first time in 15 games. However, she made all four of her free throws and has now hit 23 in a row for the third longest streak in program history. The program record stands at 26.    

• Freshman Sophia d’Oliveira made her collegiate debut on Tuesday, while classmate Nyah Stallings scored her first five points as a Lady Flame.

• All 15 Lady Flames in uniform played, with no player accumulating more than 19 minutes.

• The game was played almost exactly 30 years to the date after the first contest at the Vines Center. The team’s previous facility opened Nov. 30, 1990 with a men’s basketball game versus VMI.

• Liberty has now won six straight home games between the two facilities. 

• The Lady Flames have won seven straight contests in the month of December, a streak which began during the 2018-19 season.

Up Next

The Lady Flames will be back on the road this weekend for their first-ever meeting with Memphis. Tipoff at Elma Roane Fieldhouse is slated for 5 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

The game will serve as a “homecoming” for seniors Ashtyn Baker and Emily Lytle, both of whom hail from the greater Memphis area.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020

Location: Memphis, Tenn. (Elma Roane Fieldhouse)

TV: ESPN+

Radio: LFSN Radio (90.9 FM The Light Lynchburg)

Tipoff: 5 p.m. Eastern


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