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Men's and women's basketball teams shoot for winning seasons, NCAA bids

Flames and Lady Flames Basketball Season Outlook 2013

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Men’s Basketball

Revitalized by its third Big South Conference Championship, Liberty University’s men’s basketball team is poised for an even more promising 2013-14 campaign. Last season, the Flames made national headlines for their Cinderella run to the NCAA Tournament.

This year’s squad is an experienced bunch, returning six seniors, including forward Antwan Burrus; starting point guard and Big South Tournament MVP Davon Marshall, who broke Seth Curry’s program record for 3-pointers in a season with 107; and shooting guard John Caleb Sanders, a Big South All-Tournament team selection.

“I like the heart of our team, the energy,” fifth-year Head Coach Dale Layer said. “We have guys who know what’s expected, who know what to do, so we’re farther along than we’ve ever been at this point. They’re ready to go, and they know what’s ahead, and they’re a little bit hungry to go back to the NCAA Tournament.”

The Flames’ 15-game home schedule includes a first-time matchup with Princeton University (Jan. 4) and a chance to close out conference rivals High Point University (Jan. 18) and Gardner-Webb University (Feb. 11), teams they upset in last season’s Big South Tournament quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

Highlights on the road include in-state foe the University of Virginia on Nov. 23 (the teams’ first contest in five seasons) and 2013 Big South championship game opponent Charleston Southern University (Feb. 1).

Women’s Basketball

The Lady Flames have history on their side as winners of 15 of the past 17 Big South Conference (BSC) Tournament titles.

“The girls are used to winning, and they have high expectations, as I do,” said 15th-year Head Coach Carey Green, who relishes the task of developing seven freshmen and five sophomores on a 17-player roster. “Without those expectations, you don’t have a clear direction of what you want to get accomplished, so we welcome those expectations.”

After leading the nation for the second season in a row with a plus-16.9 rebound margin per game, Liberty will look for increased post production from Jasmine Gardner, its only senior; Ashley Rininger, the top returning scorer; and fellow redshirt sophomores Katelyn Adams and Catherine Kearney. Emily Frazier will platoon in the backcourt with fellow junior Reagan Miller, sophomore Sadalia Ellis, and freshman Moriah Begin.

The team’s 14-game home schedule kicks off Nov. 12 with James Madison University, followed by the University of Virginia on Nov. 19, a team the Lady Flames upset the last time they played in the Vines Center in 2002. On Jan. 23, Liberty will host Longwood University, which it defeated in the 2013 Big South championship game in Conway, S.C., also site of the 2014 BSC Tournament set for March 5-9.

Men’s and women’s basketball season tickets may be purchased online. Fans can download the Liberty Today mobile app to follow the teams remotely as well as watch live broadcasts of select games on Liberty Flames Sports Network, ESPN3.