Mar 11, 2008

Watkins, Fasnacht, Smigelskaite go out in style, down Fadford 70-62

by Jeff Scott

The Lady Flames basketball team closed out their regular season on Friday night with a gritty 70-62 victory over Radford University at the Vines Center.
The game also provided Liberty fans their last chance to see seniors Courtney Watkins, Allyson Fasnacht and Egle Smigelskaite in Lady Flames’ uniforms inside the Vines Center.
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The Lady Flames played with only two-thirds of the Frazee trio due to Moriah’s torn ACL, which will keep her out of action for the remainder of the season.
Liberty jumped out to an early 10-2 lead with buckets scored by  juniors Molly and Megan Frazee. Radford did not have an answer early for Liberty’s zone defense, only scoring six points in the first seven minutes.
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The Lady Flames grabbed their first 10-point lead at 16-6 with a reverse layup from Smigelskaite. The Lady Highlanders started to contain the Liberty offense but could not gain any momentum offensively.
A Kymesha Alston jumper with 7:44 on the clock cut the lead to 16-10. The Radford defense continued to step up with a huge block by Kelli Darden on Megan Frazee’s attempted jump shot the very next possession.
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Frazee was able to power her way inside and scored an old-fashioned three-point play to put the score at 21-12 with just over six minutes left. 
Radford had trouble finding the hoop, shooting air balls on four different possessions.  Davida Dodson connected on a Radford three-pointer to leave the Liberty advantage at 27-19. Freshman Rachael McLeod’s free throw set the score at the end of the first half at 28-19.
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Megan Frazee led the Lady Flames offense with nine first-half points. Junior Rebecca Lightfoot followed with six. Alston led Radford with six points while Darden had four points and also notched four blocks as Radford made only seven of its 31 attempts in the first half.
Radford opened the half on a reverse layup from Taleia Moton, cutting the Liberty lead to seven.  Lightfoot went down with a knee injury with 18:00 left in the game.
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Radford took advantage and cut the Lady Flames lead to three, but five consecutive Megan Frazee points gave Liberty a six-point lead.
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Two Radford long balls from Johnette Walker and Moton tied the score at 33 apiece with 15:37 to play. A Megan Frazee and-one play put Liberty back up by three with 14:50 remaining.  Another basket by Walker cut the lead to one, 39-38. 
Radford grabbed its first lead of the game at 50-49 with a three-pointer from Corrie Fertitta. Liberty regained the lead at 7:53 with a pair of Megan Frazee free throws. Liberty kept the lead and built on a Rachel Hammond steal and bucket, leading 60-56 with 2:30 in the ball game.
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With 40 seconds remaining, a Moton layup cut the deficit to 64-60.  The Lady Flames held on to the lead and survived their pesky in-state rivals, 70-62.
Despite a cold night that saw them shoot 38.7 percent from the floor, the Lady Flames took advantage at the foul line by connecting on 19-of-27 attempts. Radford made all 11 of its free throw attempts.
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Megan Frazee led the Flames with a dominating performance, notching 26 points and 13 rebounds.
When asked if she knew she had to step up with Moriah out of action, she remained humble.
“It’s been a key to the team this year, that people step up at different times,” Megan said. “I think it happened to be me tonight, but any other night it could be Rachel (Hammond), it could be Courtney (Watkins).” 
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Coach Green knew that although this game statistically meant nothing, he could prove a lot with a win.
“Our focus is to glorify God, so it doesn’t matter if these were two last place teams or first two; our focus is to play to win,” he said.
Liberty will have the No. 1 seed in the 2008 Big South Tournament, which is set for March 14 at the Justice Center in Asheville, N.C., which draws a first-round bye into the semifinals where the team will face either High Point or Coastal Carolina.

Contact Jeff Scott at jdscott@liberty.edu


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