Liberty’s girls basketball team isn’t short on firepower.
The Patriots have a penchant for high-paced play and large point totals.
But on Saturday, Liberty showed it can be equally adept at grinding out a win.
Despite attempting just 37 shots from the field, the Patriots pulled out a 48-41 victory over Hanford (Calif.) in the Las Vegas Invitational at Bishop Gorman.
“Starting with this tournament, our next 12 games are all against really good competition, and we’re going to see all different types of teams,” Liberty coach Rich Santigate said. “We’ve got to be versatile. You’ve got to bring everything with you to the game and use what you have to do.
“We have size. We have speed. It’s just about getting that chemistry.”
Its usually potent transition game slowed, Liberty (4-1), which averaged 61.5 points in its first four games, was more patient than normal offensively but was still plenty good on defense.
The Patriots led 40-37 after Hanford’s Brooke Johnson made a free throw with 3:38 left.
The Bullpups managed just two more baskets the rest of the way as Liberty slowed the tempo and created longer offensive possessions by effectively weaving in its half-court offense.
Kaily Kaimikaua’s 3-pointer from the left corner bumped the lead to 43-39 and began a 7-2 run that put away the game.
Liberty did had turnover trouble. The Patriots, who committed 41 turnovers in a loss to Clovis West (Calif.) on Thursday, had 26 turnovers Saturday, including 22 in the final three quarters.
“We have a freshman point guard, and it will take a little time for her to kind of grow in that role,” Santigate said. “She’s been doing a great job. That’s why we want to put ourselves in this position. We’re trying to play the best competition we can to speed up the process for our younger players.”
Paris Strawther had 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Liberty.
“She’s kind of the unofficial leader of the team,” Santigate said. “She gives us that confidence, and she’s so focused on what she has to do.”
Kealy Brown added 10 points for the Patriots.
Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Janelle Sumilong scored 11 for Hanford.