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Lady Flames Take Aim At Another Big South Title
The third-seeded Liberty Lady Flames (18-11, 10-4 Big South) open their quest for an 11th-consecutive Big South Championship title with a first-round match-up against sixth-seeded Birmingham-Southern (8-21, 3-11 Big South). Liberty swept the season series from the Panthers and is 13-0 all-time against Birmingham-Southern.
The Last Time Out
Radford shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter on its Senior Day, connecting on 10-of-15 three-pointers in its 77-54 victory over Liberty on Saturday. Shavon Earp made six of the Highlanders' triples, totaling a team-high 20 points and enabling her team to hand the Lady Flames their most lopsided loss against a Big South team since 1996. Megan Frazee tallied 27 points and a career-best 16 rebounds in a losing effort for Liberty.
Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games can be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, who is celebrating his 13th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will once again be handling the courtside play-by-play duties for most road games and selected home contests. Jerod Brooks and Nick Pierce will serve as the primary commentators for home games.
Birmingham-Southern enters its final Big South Championship as the No. 6 seed after going 3-11 in conference play. The Panthers were a pesky team down the stretch, losing by single digits against Coastal Carolina and High Point and owning double-digit leads against both Radford and Liberty before falling in the end. The Panthers are 3-3 in their three previous conference tournament appearances, including a first-round loss at Coastal Carolina last season.
Reba Ross, a 5-11 junior forward/center continues to lead Birmingham-Southern in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). The junior, who led all players with 16 points and eight rebounds in the Feb. 26 contest against Liberty, also paces the conference in field goal percentage (.546). Marisah Henderson, a 5-2 freshman point guard, is second in the Big South in assists (4.7 apg) and sits fourth in steals (2.3 spg). The Panthers rely heavily upon the three-point shot, and Mallory Morring, a 5-8 junior guard, ranks third in the conference with her 67 made triples. By comparison, Liberty's top two three-point shooters, Megan and Molly Frazee, have combined to sink just 47 treys this season.
The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his eighth season with the Lady Flames. He owns a 184-63 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.745) ranked ninth among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.
Brad Hodge is 20-37 in his second year at the helm of Birmingham-Southern. For his career, which also includes a four-season stint at East Central Community College, Hodge is 100-73. Career win number 100 came on Feb. 19 at Winthrop.
Liberty has won all 13 lifetime match-ups with Birmingham-Southern, including a pair of victories in the Big South Championship.
Seventh-seeded Birmingham-Southern made an improbable run to the Big South Championship title game in its first season in the conference, 2004. Liberty ended the Panthers' season with a 54-41 win on March 13, winning their eighth-straight Big South crown. The Lady Flames held Birmingham-Southern to 11 first-half points and Katie Feenstra recorded a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds).
The Lady Flames also defeated the Panthers in the 2005 Big South semifinals, 80-44, at the Vines Center on March 11, led by Katie Feenstra's 25 points and 14 boards. Martina Knotkova and Stacey Anthony scored 11 points apiece for Birmingham-Southern, but it was not enough to derail the Liberty squad which went on to claim a spot in the Sweet 16.
Fantastic in the First Game
Liberty is 12-3 all-time in its opening game of the Big South Championship. The Lady Flames have won 10-straight openers since losing to UNC Greensboro, 84-40, in the 1996 quarterfinals.
Getting it Done by Double Digits
During the Lady Flames' current 28-game Big South Championship winning streak, only five of the victories have been by single digits. Liberty's closest game during the streak was the 2006 title game versus High Point, which saw the Lady Flames erase a nine-point halftime deficit to win, 53-50.
Breaking it Down by Location
Liberty is 17-0 all-time in Big South Championship contests played at home, 0-1 on the road and 13-4 when games are played at neutral sites. The Lady Flames' lone road contest was a 70-62 setback at Radford in the 1993 semifinals.
An Unusual Seed
For the first time since 1997, Liberty does not enter the Big South Championship as the No. 1 seed. The Lady Flames had earned the top seed nine years in a row.
Liberty is the No. 3 seed in the Big South Championship for the second time. The Lady Flames were also seeded third in their initial tournament appearance, in 1992. That season, Liberty defeated Coastal Carolina in its opener before falling to No. 2 Campbell in the semifinal round.
All-time, Liberty has been seeded No. 1 nine times, No. 2 one time, No. 3 two times (including this season), No. 6 two times, No. 7 one time and No. 8 once. The Lady Flames have not won the tournament title when seeded No. 3 or lower.
Success Versus Current Big South Teams
Liberty is 26-2 in Big South Championship games against the seven other teams which currently comprise the conference. Radford is the only current conference member which has ever defeated the Lady Flames in the tournament, doing so in both 1993 and 1994.
A Look Back
The Lady Flames captured their 10th-consecutive Big South Championship title at the 2006 edition of the tournament, but it was not easy. After ousting Charleston Southern, 62-46, in the opening round, Liberty's next two victories came by a combined 11 points, versus Winthrop and High Point.
In the High Point contest, Liberty trailed, 30-21, at the break before coming back during the final 20 minutes. Allyson Fasnacht's 13-foot jumper with 14.9 seconds remaining sealed the 53-50 triumph and the tournament championship for the homestanding Lady Flames.
Fasnacht went on to earn tournament MVP honors and Rachel Hammond, in large part due to a 14-point effort in the semifinal victory over Winthrop, was named to the all-tournament team.
When Liberty captured the first of its 10-straight Big South Championship titles with an 89-82 win over UNC Greensboro at the Vines Center on March 1, 1997, Bill Clinton had recently been inaugurated for his second term as President, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers had just defeated New England in Super Bowl XXXI, No Doubt's "Don't Speak" was the No. 1 musical hit in the nation, "Titanic" was in the final stages of production, Carey Green was an assistant coach at Clemson and Alexandria Bream, Megan Frazee, Molly Frazee, Moriah Frazee, Rachel Hammond and Rebecca Lightfoot were all in fourth grade.
Fasnacht's Favorite Time of Year
Allyson Fasnacht has stepped up her play during Big South Conference action throughout her career. Her career averages in non-conference games stand at 4.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg and 2.2 apg. Once conference play begins, the junior's career averages have increased to 6.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 2.8 apg.
Consecutive Free Throw Streak
Molly Frazee made 20-consecutive free throws between Nov. 14 and Dec. 10, before misfiring at George Washington. The streak marks the longest string of consecutive made free throws by a Liberty women's basketball player since Kristal Tharp also sank 20-straight charity tosses during the 2003-04 season.
Big South Player of the Week x 4
Megan Frazee has been named the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Player of the Week on four occasions this season. The sophomore, who has now captured this award six times in her career, garnered her most recent honor on Jan. 29. She averaged 17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 4.0 spg during home wins over Winthrop and Radford. Frazee totaled 27 points, a team-high seven rebounds and a career-best five steals against the Highlanders on Jan. 27.
Marvelous in March
Liberty has gone 26-8 during the month of March under Carey Green, with seven of the setbacks coming in the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames are 5-1 in the regular season, 19-0 in the Big South Championship and 2-7 in the "Big Dance" during the year's third month, under his direction. Last season, Liberty was victorious in four-of-five March outings.
The Lady Flames are 34-33 all-time in March contests and did not pick up their first victory in the month until the program's 13th season. Liberty's initial March triumph was an 82-69 win over Randolph-Macon on March 3, 1988.
Reaching Double Figures
Junior Courtney Watkins tossed in a season-best 11 points at Birmingham-Southern on Feb. 26. Of Liberty's 14 players, 12 have recorded a double-figure scoring effort this season. Megan Frazee (27 times), Molly Frazee (nine times), Moriah Frazee (eight times), Michelle Parker (six times), Roli-Ann Nikagbatse (five times), Rebecca Lightfoot (four times), Allyson Fasnacht (two times), Rachel Hammond (two times), Karolina Piotrkiewicz (two times), Jamie Feagin (once) and Leslie Jones (once) have also done so.
One Championship Streak Continues, Another Snapped
Liberty hoisted the Big South Championship trophy for the 10th-straight year a season ago, keeping alive the second-longest active string of conference tournament titles in the nation. Only Old Dominion, among NCAA Division I teams, currently owns a longer streak, having won 15-consecutive CAA conference crowns.
The Lady Flames earned nine-straight Big South regular season titles prior to this season, which briefly stood as the longest active streak in a single Division I conference.
Liberty in the NCAA Rankings
Liberty currently ranks in the Top 20 nationally in three NCAA statistical categories--Rebounding Margin (sixth, +10.3), Field Goal Percentage Defense (16th, .352) and Scoring Defense (20th, 55.6 ppg).
Green Tops in Big South
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green currently ranks as the winningest coach in Big South Conference history with a .745 winning percentage. His 184 career wins also put him atop the conference's coaching list.
Green is 101-11 in Big South Conference games, and is now also the all-time leader in Big South Conference victories. He passed former Radford coach Luby Lichonczak with a Feb. 19 win over Charleston Southern.
Liberty and Winning Seasons
The Lady Flames have posted 10-consecutive winning seasons and 14 total winning seasons in their 31 years of competition. Liberty is now assured of its 11th-straight winning season, as the team is 18-11 with the regular season complete.
Just For Starters
Molly Frazee made her first career start Nov. 29 at James Madison and Rachel Hammond appeared in the starting lineup for the first time Dec. 10 at George Washington. Jamie Feagin started for the first time Jan. 2 against American, leaving Egle Smigelskaite as the only current Lady Flame who has never started a game.
Coach Carey Green Versus The Big South
Liberty is 122-11 (.917) against Big South opponents under Carey Green's direction since he took the helm prior to the 1999-2000 campaign. The Lady Flames are 101-11 in regular season conference games and 21-0 in the Big South Championship.
The Lady Flames have not lost to current Big South members Coastal Carolina (19-0), Winthrop (19-0), Charleston Southern (18-0) and Birmingham-Southern (13-0) with Green as head coach.
Unbelievable at UVa
Megan Frazee put on an incredible scoring exhibition in Liberty's Nov. 20 win at Virginia, tossing in 31 of her 37 markers after halftime. Her 31 points is believed to equal a school record for points in one half. Elena Kisseleva tallied 31 points in the second half of a 96-90 win over Akron on Dec. 7, 1996.
Frazee's 37 points represents the third-highest single-game scoring output in program history. Katie Feenstra holds the record with 40 points, a standard she established on Feb. 3, 2004 against Winthrop.
Triple the Trouble
The Nov. 11 season opener against Norfolk State marked the first time all three Frazee triplets (Megan, Molly and Moriah) scored in double figures in the same contest since arriving at Liberty. Megan led the way with 19 points, Moriah added 14 and Molly matched her then-career high with 10 markers. The trio pulled off the same feat in a Nov. 14 game at George Mason, as Megan totaled 25 points, Moriah had 15 and Molly again scored 10. The Frazees did it again at High Point on Jan. 20, as Molly totaled 13 points, Moriah 12 and Megan 10 markers.
Megan, Molly and Moriah were all included in the Liberty starting lineup on Nov. 29 at James Madison, marking the first time all three triplets have started together at Liberty. The Frazees have started together eight times.
The triplets currently account for 31.2 ppg and 16.2 rpg. Those numbers represent 47.1 percent of the Lady Flames' total scoring output and 38.6 percent of the team's total rebounds.
The Frazees, the only set of triplets currently playing Division I women's basketball, were featured on ESPN.com earlier this season, as columnist Beth Mowins wrote a piece entitled, "Liberty has three times the fun in Frazee triplets."
Megan, Molly and Moriah were featured on a segment of the CBS women's college basketball special, "Pride, Passion and Power," which aired nationally on Jan. 21.
Chasing a Pair of Records
Senior point guard Michelle Parker is currently closing in on the Liberty and Big South career games played records. She is on track to break both marks if she stays healthy and Liberty wins its first Big South Championship game. Parker will tie the records with an appearance in the first round contest against Birmingham-Southern. She has played 123 career games, just one fewer than school and conference record holder, Daina Staugaitiene.
Best in the Big South
Through the games of March 3, Liberty leads the Big South Conference in free throw percentage (.707), field goal percentage (.428), field goal percentage defense (.355), rebounding margin (+10.0) and defensive rebounds (27.2 rpg).
Individually, Megan Frazee leads the conference in both free throw percentage (.782) and three-point field goal percentage (.425).
It's a Good Sign if ...
Liberty is perfect this season when leading with one minute remaining (17-0), when scoring 71 or more points (10-0), when recording more steals than its opponent (8-0), when the opponent commits more turnovers than the Lady Flames (8-0), when blocking more shots than its opponent (7-0), when playing on Monday (6-0) and when shooting 50 percent or better from the field (4-0).
It's Not a Good Sign if ...
Liberty is winless this season when trailing with one minute remaining (0-9), when playing on a neutral floor (0-4), when scoring 50 or fewer points (0-2) and when playing a Wednesday contest (0-2).
A Fast Start for Frazee
Megan Frazee has played only 43 games in a Liberty uniform, yet she has scored more career points (753) than any of her teammates, an average of 17.5 ppg. Elena Kisseleva, Liberty's all-time leading scorer with 2,154 points, posted 18.1 ppg during her four years with the Lady Flames.
Frazee is currently 21st on Liberty's all-time scoring list and has scored in double figures in 39-of-43 career contests. The sophomore also has 16 20-point games to her credit.
Liberty's reserves have scored an average of 27.0 ppg this season, good for 40.8 percent of the Lady Flames' total offensive production. Liberty's bench performers have outscored their opponent's non-starters in 24-of-29 games thus far, by an average of 13.0 ppg. Opponents' reserves have been limited to 10 points or fewer 10 times.
Long Distance Connection
The Lady Flames have made at least one three-pointer in 69-straight games, a streak which began on Jan. 26, 2005. This is Liberty's longest such streak since the Lady Flames went 82-consecutive games with a three-pointer between Jan. 24, 1998 and Dec. 20, 2000.
Ripping Down the Rebounds
In 22 out of 29 games this season, Liberty has won the rebounding battle. The Lady Flames are outrebounding opponents by 10.0 caroms per game, a figure which leads the Big South and ranked sixth nationally in the most recent NCAA statistical report.
Such dominance on the boards is nothing new for the Lady Flames, who led the nation in rebounding margin in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and ranked third in the category a season ago.
The Lady Flames outrebounded Birmingham-Southern by 17 caroms on Feb. 26, 43-26. Liberty has now won the rebounding battle by double digits in seven of its last eight games, including a season-best 34-rebound advantage versus Charleston Southern on Feb. 19.
The Lady Flames have made it very difficult for opponents to score this season. Liberty foes are shooting just 35.5 percent from the field, a statistic which ranked 16th in the nation in the most recent NCAA report. Liberty has held nine opponents below the 50-point plateau this season.
Did You Know?
. . . Junior guard Courtney Watkins has appeared in all 93 games the Lady Flames have played since she set foot on campus?
. . . Sophomore guard/forward Megan Frazee has recorded 16 20-point games dur- ing her time at Liberty, but she is the only current Lady Flame who has reached the 20-point plateau in her career? (Allyson Fasnacht and Moriah Frazee each have a 19-point game to their credit.)
Noting the Nineties
The Lady Flames' Feb. 19, 91-40 win over Charleston Southern marked the first time Liberty has scored 90 or more points in a Big South Conference game since joining the league for the 1991-92 season.
Liberty has now scored 90 or more points three times this season. The Lady Flames previously did so twice in a six-day span at the start of the year, notching 91 points against Norfolk State on Nov. 11 and 97 markers versus Columbia Union on Nov. 16.
The Lady Flames had not recorded three 90-point games in a single season since 1986-87, when they did so four times, including two 100-point performances.
Double the Fun
Megan Frazee and Karolina Piotrkiewicz are the only two Lady Flames who have a double-double to their credit in their career at Liberty. Frazee has posted 11 double-doubles this season, ranking second in the Big South in the category, and has tallied 20 for her career. Seven of Frazee's double-doubles this year have been of the 20-point, 10-rebound variety. The rest of the conference has accomplished the feat only eight times all season.
Piotrkiewicz totaled 14 points and 12 boards against Columbia Union on Nov. 16 for her lone double-double this season. She recorded five double-doubles during the 2005-06 season, giving her six for her career.
Getting Off to a Fast Start
Liberty has owned a halftime lead in 21-of-29 games this season and is outscoring opponents by an average of 6.3 ppg during the opening 20 minutes of play. Of the six times the Lady Flames trailed at the intermission, they have come from behind to win three times, all on the road (at George Mason, at Virginia, at Birmingham-Southern). On the other hand, Liberty has lost six games in which it held a halftime lead (vs. Virginia Tech, at George Washington, vs. Texas-Arlington, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. UNC Greensboro and vs. High Point).
Down But Not Out
Birmingham-Southern led Liberty, 24-10, with 11:20 left in the first half before the Lady Flames came back to win on Monday. The 14-point deficit is the largest Liberty has overcome this season. The Lady Flames previously came back from 13 points down at Virginia on Nov. 20 and from 10 points behind at George Mason on Nov. 14.