Mar 3, 2009

Women's Basketball

by Chris McNair

The Lady Flames celebrated the end of an era on Senior Night in a 77-41 thrashing over UNC-Asheville Saturday night, and remained undefeated in the Big South.

The night commemorated the careers of the seven players including the Frazee triplets and Rachel Hammond.

“They had a career of sacrifice, commitment and loyalty to the program for which I am thankful,” Coach Carey Green said.

“We knew coming in there was lot of emotions with Senior Night so ultimately we had to do our best to play Liberty basketball,” Megan Frazee said.

Liberty basketball for much of the past four years has been the seven seniors. Fitting for the occasion, Lady Flames’ seniors outscored the Bulldogs by themselves, accumulating 42 points and 23 rebounds.
Both teams struggled with sloppy play and turnovers in the opening 10 minutes. Frazee drained a jumper with 10:49 remaining in the first half to extend Liberty’s lead to 14-7. Frazee put on a show for the Senior Night crowd, scoring 23 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and recording four steals.

After Avery Warley pushed the Lady Flames advantage to 22-9 on two free throws, the Lady Flames caught the turnover bug that has plagued them most of the year. Five turnovers in the span of two minutes allowed the Bulldogs to go on an 8-0 run bringing the game within reach, 22-17.

“I think as guards we had trouble matching their physical aggression when I feel like we have a lot of strength so I think that hurt us,” Hammond said.

“Most disturbing is that sometimes the turnovers are unforced, and it’s something hopefully we can eliminate,” Green said.

Sophomore Rachel McLeod sparked a Lady Flames turnaround with a three-pointer to start a 10-3 run that closed the half and stretched the lead to 32-20.

The two factors that contributed to VMI’s dominant performance were shooting and turnovers. The Keydets shot 54 percent (38-70) from the field, and a very impressive 50 percent (18-36) from beyond the arc. Also, they scored 27 points off of 19 Liberty turnovers.

Chavis Holmes credited their excellent shooting on Tuesday night to practice in the gym and shot repetition.

“We’ve been getting in the gym this week and have been getting up more shots. It’s a night like this with everything clicking that anything can happen,” Holmes said.

In addition to their shooting, the Keydets also defended well, holding freshman Seth Curry, who averages nearly 20 points per game, to only 14 points. The Flames leading scorer was senior Anthony Smith who, in spite of the onslaught, netted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

VMI’s perimeter defense was indeed pestering from start to finish, disrupting the Flames offense all night long. In the last meeting between the two teams, Curry dropped 35 points. In this contest, VMI made Curry an extremely difficult target, and the freshman phenom never really got into a rhythm. Although all of his field goals came from beyond the arc, he shot just 4-of-14 on the night.

“I was kind of conscious for them every time I caught the ball coming off that handoff. They were doubling me before I could even catch it or make a move or get a shot off,” Curry said.

This kind of loss usually does not sit well with most, but the Flames understand that they need to take it on the chin, let it go and move on.

“It’s definitely going be hard but we’ve just got to do it. We’ve got to just bounce back next game and get that win,” Curry said.
With the win, VMI improved to 21-7 on the season, while the Flames fell to 20-10.

The Flames return to action on Tuesday night at the Vines Center, where they will take on the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs in the quarterfinals of the Big South Championship. A win will earn them a semifinal matchup with either VMI or Coastal Carolina on ESPNU on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Contact Chris McNair at
cjmcnair@liberty.edu.

 


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