The first time Liberty’s girls basketball team met Coronado this season, the Patriots nearly frittered away a huge second-half lead before going on to a 14-point win.
Liberty made sure it didn’t flirt with disaster Tuesday.
Paris Strawther notched her 14th double-double of the season with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, and No. 3 Liberty cruised to an 82-37 victory over the visiting Cougars.
“When you look at the (postseason) brackets, that’s a team we could meet in the semifinals,” Patriots coach Rich Santigate said. “We didn’t want to give anybody any food for thought.”
Jazmin O’Bannon added 16 points and eight rebounds for Liberty (19-4, 7-0 Southeast League) despite resting the entire fourth quarter, along with Strawther. Teammate Kealy Brown had 12 of her 14 points in the first half to go with eight steals.
The Patriots jumped to a 27-11 lead after the first quarter and never led by fewer than 16 points the rest of the way. Nancy Caballero came off the bench to provide 12 points and four rebounds for Liberty, and fellow reserve LaTanora Barber chipped in with six assists.
“Obviously with them being our closest rival, we got up for this game,” Santigate said. “They’re a good team. We kind of approached it like a playoff game.”
Grace Green led No. 9 Coronado (15-9, 4-3) with 14 points, and Skylar Feldman scored 11. But the Cougars shot 25 percent (12-for-48) from the field — they went the final 4 minutes, 44 seconds without scoring during a running clock — and committed 35 turnovers.
Dajah Washington, Coronado’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, battled foul trouble and was held scoreless while playing only a handful of minutes.
“I thought we played with more energy,” Santigate said. “When you play defense, you’ve got to play with energy.”
O’Bannon had seven points as part of a 14-2 second-quarter run that helped put Liberty up 48-24 at halftime. Green opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, but the Patriots answered with a 15-2 run.
Kaily Kaimikaua (eight points, four rebounds) scored after one of her three steals, and Brown’s drive to the basket put Liberty ahead 63-29 late in the third.
“I thought we gave up a little more than we should have in the first half,” Santigate said. “We executed our stuff. We kind of micromanaged it a little bit, but we want to keep getting better. We don’t want to be the best team in January. We want to be the best team at the end of February.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.