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WBB Game Day Central: Winthrop
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Liberty (16-10, 12-5 Big South) will close out its regular-season home schedule Saturday at 7 p.m., when Big South-leading Winthrop (20-6, 14-3 Big South) visits the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will try to complete a regular-season sweep of the Eagles, after notching a 77-70 overtime win in Rock Hill on Jan. 16.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) A week and a half away from the start of the Big South Women's Basketball Championship, two of the conference's top teams will square off at the Vines Center. Winthrop is the current Big South leader at 14-3, while Liberty owns third place with a 12-5 conference mark. Both teams have clinched first-round byes in the conference tournament.
2) One lengthy streak will come to an end on Saturday. Liberty has won 21 straight home meetings with Winthrop. Meanwhile, the Eagles arrive in Lynchburg on a season-long seven-game winning streak.
3) Liberty and Winthrop have both played strong defense this season. At latest report, the Eagles rank No. 7 nationally in field goal percentage defense, with the Lady Flames checking in at No. 12.
4) Liberty will attempt to slow down Winthrop's Dequesha McClanahan, who is averaging 16.8 ppg this season. The senior guard needs 26 points to break Liberty alum Elena Kisseleva's Big South career scoring record of 2,154 points.
5) The Lady Flames' starting post duo of Katelyn Adams and Ashley Rininger will look to continue their strong play inside. On Thursday, they combined for 33 points and 24 rebounds, recording double-doubles in the same game for the third time this season.
Liberty vs. Winthrop At a Glance
Series Record: Liberty leads, 45-8.
Current Streak: Liberty has won three consecutive meetings.
Series Record at Liberty: Liberty leads, 26-1.
Current Streak at Liberty: Liberty has won 21 consecutive meetings.
Last Meeting Overall: Liberty 77, Winthrop 70 (OT) (Jan. 16, 2014 at Winthrop)
Last Meeting at Liberty: Liberty 69, Winthrop 54 (Feb. 14, 2013)
Winthrop's Last Series Victory: Winthrop 71, Liberty 69 (Feb. 18, 2012 at Winthrop)
Winthrop's Last Series Victory at Liberty: Winthrop 55, Liberty 46 (Feb. 24, 1996)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 353-120 (15th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Winthrop: 31-2
Winthrop Head Coach: Kevin Cook
Overall Record (Seasons): 88-74 (Sixth Season)
Record at Winthrop (Seasons): 41-18 (Second Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 0-3
Notes and Anecdotes
• Liberty came from behind to post a 77-70 overtime victory at Winthrop on Jan. 16, handing the Eagles their only home loss of the season and claiming sole possession of first place in the Big South standings.
• Winthrop has gone 8-1 since then, retaking first place. The Eagles bring a season-long seven-game winning streak into the Vines Center.
• The Lady Flames have won 21 straight home meetings with the Eagles, with 20 of those victories coming by 10 or more points. Meanwhile, Winthrop is 9-4 on the road this year.
• Winthrop senior guard Dequesha McClanahan has a chance to become the Big South's all-time leading scorer on Saturday. She enters the game with 2,129 career points, meaning she needs 26 tallies to overtake Liberty alum Elena Kisseleva's (1997-2000) record total of 2,154 points. McClanahan is averaging 16.4 ppg in seven career meetings with Liberty.
• Averaging 15.2 ppg and 8.0 rpg, Erica Williams is a leading candidate for Big South Freshman of the Year. She has tied the conference record with seven Big South Freshman of the Week honors.
• Ashley Rininger is playing a team-high 27.8 mpg for the Lady Flames. That would only rank her sixth on the Winthrop roster, which is led by McClanahan's 37.0 mpg.
Liberty has played strong defense during its last five games, allowing 49.6 ppg and holding opponents to 31.3 percent field goal shooting. As a result, the Lady Flames have won four of those five contests.
• Liberty's recent run of staunch defensive efforts has enabled the Lady Flames to climb to No. 12 nationally in field goal percentage defense (.348).
What's at Stake?
If Liberty is victorious against Winthrop on Saturday, the Lady Flames would accomplish the following:
• Move to within a game of first place in the Big South standings
• Finish with 10 or more home wins for the 12th consecutive season
A Look Back at Liberty's 64-49 Win Over UNC Asheville
• Double-doubles by Katelyn Adams and Ashley Rininger helped Liberty avenge an earlier loss to UNC Asheville with a 64-49 victory, Thursday evening at the Vines Center.
• The Lady Flames dominated the area around the basket, topping the Bulldogs in rebounding (48-28), points in the paint (38-14) and second-chance points (21-10).
• Liberty took over sole possession of third place in the Big South standings and clinched a first-round bye in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
• Asheville, which has still never defeated the Lady Flames twice in the same season, shot only 28.8 percent (15-of-52) for the game.
• The Lady Flames never trailed and led by as many as 18 points.
• For the 10th straight game, Liberty finished with more bench points than its opponent, 14-12.
• Rininger scored 14 of her game-high 20 points after halftime and added 11 rebounds for her seventh 20-point game this season and her 14th double-double of the year. She now owns the Liberty sophomore-class single-season record for double-doubles by herself.
• Adams notched 10 of her 13 points in the first half, while finishing with a game-high 13 rebounds for the game. It was her second double-double against Asheville this season and her fifth double-double overall in 2013-14. Adams has now led the Lady Flames in rebounding in four straight games.
• Making the second start of her career, Simone Brown added eight points and five rebounds.
• Emily Frazier distributed a team-high four assists for Liberty, leaving her two shy of 300 for her career.
• Asheville's leading scorer this season (Paige Love) was held to three points.
Liberty boasts a youthful roster this season, featuring seven freshmen and five sophomores among its 16 players.
• Freshmen and sophomores are scoring 79.2 percent of Liberty's points, grabbing 78.4 percent of the Lady Flames' rebounds and playing 76.2 percent of the team's minutes during the 2013-14 campaign.
Defending Their Home Court
Liberty is 9-3 at the Vines Center this season, including 8-1 in Big South home tilts. If the Lady Flames win on Saturday, they will finish with 10 or more home victories for the 12th consecutive season.
Finishing with a Bang
Liberty will aim to win its regular-season home finale for the seventh consecutive season. The Lady Flames are 13-1 in their final home game of the regular season under head coach Carey Green. Twelve of the 13 times Liberty has won its final regular-season home tilt under Green, the Lady Flames have gone on to win the Big South Championship.
What Happened to Senior Day?
Normally, Senior Day would be celebrated in conjunction with the Lady Flames' final home game of the year. However, this year's team only features one senior, Jasmine Gardner, and she plans to return for the 2014-15 campaign after redshirting this season. As a result, Liberty has no departing senior players to recognize on Saturday.
The Container is Half Empty
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, only seven teams have shot 50 percent against Liberty in 224 games, including none so far this season. By way of comparison, the Lady Flames have shot 50 percent 56 times during that span, including twice this year.