Camels drop regular season finale at Liberty

Summer Price (Will Bratton photo)
Summer Price (Will Bratton photo)

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LYNCHBURG, Va. --- Campbell was dealt a 57-47 loss by Liberty in both team's 2016-17 regular season finale Saturday at the Vines Center. Hayley Barber led the Camels' scoring effort with 13 points.

A 10-0 run for the Flames (13-16, 12-6 BSC) in the fourth period proved to be the difference. The Camels (21-8, 13-5) held a 41-37 lead with nine minutes left to play. A three-pointer from Iva Illic tied the game at 45-45 at the 4:30 mark of the fourth and Liberty took its first lead of the game on an Audrey Rettstatt jumper with 3:26 remaining.

Lela Sellers capped the 10-0 spurt with a three that put the Flames up 52-45 with 1:49 on the clock. Hannah Long snapped the Camels' six minute scoring drought with a layup in the ensuing possession, but that would be the final points of the game for CU before Liberty earned the win.

Summer Price scored 11 points for Campbell, who was held to .360 shooting from the field (18-for-50) and just .188 shooting from beyond the arc (3-for-16). Brianna Cribb led the Camels on the boards with six rebounds. As a unit, Campbell out-rebounded Liberty, the top rebounding team in the league, by a 33-32 margin. Long added eight points and five boards.

Despite the loss, the Camels still matched the program's highest regular season overall and Big South win total. Campbell, who was picked to finish eighth in the league according to the preseason coaches' poll, finished second in the final conference standings. It's CU's highest conference finish since the 2000-01 season. Entering Saturday's game, the Camels had already sealed up the second seed in next week's Big South Championship.

Nene Johnson led the Flames with 13 points while Keyen Green added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Liberty only shot .395 from the field (17-for-43) and .333 from long range (5-for-15). The Flames went to the free throw stripe 28 times and converted 18 (.643) while the Camels converted eight of 13 free throw attempts (.615).

After a 4-0 start to the contest, the Camels led by as many as seven (15-8) in the opening period. KK Barbour hit a late three before the first intermission to cut the score to 15-11 after 10 minutes of play.

Campbell opened the second period on an 8-0 run to take a 23-11 advantage, the largest lead of the game by either side. Liberty responded with a 7-0 spurt after its first basket of the second at the 6:19 mark. A trey from Caroline Bowns put the Camels ahead 28-19 and a tough contested layup from Bria Emanuel sent Campbell to the halftime locker room with a 30-21 advantage.

The Camels didn't score their first points of the second half until a Price layup with 6:01 on the clock. The Flames scored six-straight before the basket and only trailed 32-29 midway through the frame. CU answered with five unanswered points and still held an eight-point advantage (39-31) with 2:12 left in the frame.

However, Campbell went scoreless for the remainder of the period and four points from the Flames during the stretch cut the deficit to 39-35 heading to the fourth. LU only scored one field goal in the third but hit 11-of-18 free throw attempts.

The Camels will begin play in the 2017 Big South Championship in the quarterfinal round on Friday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m. Campbell will face the winner of Thursday's first round game between seventh-seeded UNC Asheville and 10th-seeded Longwood.

The semifinals are set for Saturday, March 11 with the finals on Sunday, March 12. The winner will receive the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Big South Championship will take place at the Vines Center.