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Double-Doubles By Frazee, Piotrkiewicz Push Liberty Past Birmingham-Southern In Quarterfinals Of Big South Women's Basketball Championship
Liberty is now 19-11 and has won its opening game in the Big South Championship 11-straight years. The Lady Flames have won 29-consecutive Big South Championship contests. Birmingham-Southern closes its year at 8-22 after falling in its fourth-consecutive contest.
Liberty sophomore Megan Frazee scored five-straight points, posting the Lady Flames to an 8-4 lead at 16:56 of the opening half.
After Pam Thornborrow trimmed Birmingham-Southern's deficit to a single point with a deep three-pointer 16:24 before the intermission, the Lady Flames ran off nine of the game's next 12 points. Megan Frazee's jumper from the paint at the 11:37 mark capped the surge and lifted her team to its largest lead of the half, 17-10.
Liberty did not tally another point for the next 5:22 of play. In the meantime, the Panthers knotted the game at 17 apiece when a Morgan Talbot basket finished a 7-0 surge with 7:54 showing on the first-half clock.
The Lady Flames responded by scoring the next six points in succession. Megan Frazee's baseline jumper at 4:19 reestablished her team's edge, 23-17.
All-Big South first-team performers Reba Ross and Megan Frazee traded points for the remainder of the stanza. Ross scored seven of her team's final 11 markers during the opening 20 minutes, while Frazee scored the Lady Flames' last eight tallies.
Ross' lay-up 34 seconds before the intermission left Liberty ahead by a single point, 29-28, at the break. The basket wrapped up a 13-point, three-rebound opening half for the junior forward.
Frazee led all players with 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half. She pulled down six of Liberty's 14 offensive caroms prior to the intermission, helping the Lady Flames attain a 25-14 rebounding edge.
Both squads struggled at the offensive end prior to the intermission. Birmingham-Southern was 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) from the floor, and Liberty checked in at 9-of-27 (33.3 percent) on its field goal tries.
Birmingham-Southern took its first lead since 4-3 just 10 seconds into the second half. Thornborrow's third triple of the game put her team on top, 31-29.
The Lady Flames quickly retook the advantage, scoring the next five points. Liberty was ahead, 34-31, when Rebecca Lightfoot sank a three-pointer from the wing at 18:56.
The Panthers trimmed the deficit to one on three occasions but were unable to reclaim the lead the rest of the way.
Piotrkiewicz came off the Liberty bench to score nine points during a 13-2 run which lifted the Lady Flames to their first double-digit advantage of the evening, 51-39.
Birmingham-Southern came back to slice the Lady Flame edge in half, fashioning a 7-1 run. A perimeter jumper by Thornborrow at the 6:30 mark capped the burst with the Panthers trailing, 52-46.
The Panthers crept to within four points, 56-52, when Marisah Henderson made a floater with 5:04 left.
Liberty then put the game away with an ensuing 10-0 surge, capped by Courtney Watkins' three-pointer at 2:39. Her long-distance connection gave the Lady Flames a 66-52 lead.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Britni Ballard and Mallory Morring cut the Birmingham-Southern disadvantage to 68-58 with 1:34 left, but that's as close as the Panthers would get.
Allyson Fasnacht made a pair of charity tosses in the final minute to make the final score 70-58 in favor of the Lady Flames. The victory marked Liberty's third win over the Panthers this season and improved the Lady Flames' all-time record versus Birmingham-Southern to 14-0.
The double-double, Megan Frazee's 12th of the year, was aided by a 10-of-15 effort from the charity stripe. Her 15 free throw attempts tied a Big South Championship record for the quarterfinal round. Piotrkiewicz's 17 points marked a career high. She actually recorded a double-double in the second half alone, posting 13 points and 12 caroms after the break.
Ross paced the Panthers with 23 points and eight boards, while Thornborrow added 13 markers.
Liberty out-rebounded the outsized Birmingham-Southern squad, 52-30. The Lady Flames hauled in 25 offensive boards.
The Lady Flames also enjoyed a sizable edge at the free throw line, making 22-of-34 free throws, while the Panthers ended up 7-of-8.
The Lady Flames will meet No. 2 Radford in a semifinal contest, televised by SportSouth, WDRL-TV in Roanoke and the Liberty Channel in Lynchburg, Va., at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green:
"I'm very pleased with how we stayed in the game and competed. I'm pleased with how our bench contributed tonight, which is very important when you have to play back-to-back games in a tournament setting. K.P. [Karolina Piotrkiewicz] came off the bench and played excellent tonight for us."
Birmingham-Southern Head Coach Brad Hodge:
"Obviously it's a disappointing loss. We fought and battled and gave ourselves a chance to win, but in the last 10 minutes we let it get away from us. We've been through a lot this year, we've had a lot of ups and downs, and I admire what these young ladies have been through and how they've fought through it and kept competing all the way to the end. In the end, size differential was the difference tonight, we couldn't keep Liberty off the boards. They got a lot of second chances and hit two critical threes there in the last few minutes that helped them pull ahead."