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WBB Game Day Central: Charlotte
Broadcast - Tip-Off:
5 p.m. at Charlotte
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Liberty will tip off its 39th season of women's basketball Friday, when the Lady Flames travel to Charlotte. Tipoff for the second all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and 49ers is set for 5 p.m. at Halton Arena. Both teams are coming off of successful seasons, as Liberty went 27-7 and made the NCAA Tournament, while Charlotte finished 26-6 and earned a WNIT berth.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Liberty will attempt to equal a program record on Friday. The Lady Flames have won 11 consecutive road games since losing at No. 3/3 Baylor on Nov. 23, 2012. The program record of 12 straight road victories was set by the 1997-98 Liberty squad.
2) Liberty will match up against Charlotte for the second time in program history. The teams' first contest came during the first round of the 2011 WNIT, and the host 49ers came away with a 62-56 triumph. Three current players saw action in that contest, including Liberty's Emily Frazier and Charlotte's Jessica Johnson and Gabby Tyler.
3) Both the Lady Flames and 49ers were hit hard by graduation after the 2012-13 season. Each team graduated three starters and lost 55 percent of its scoring.
4) Liberty will be a new-look team in multiple ways on Friday, beginning with its new set of navy blue road uniforms. Moreover, six newcomers will be sporting those jerseys for the Lady Flames, including freshmen Moriah Begin, Simone Brown, Tesh Hanson, Audrey Rettstatt, Mickayla Sanders and Emily Stotmeister.
5) Expectations are high for both Liberty (picked first in the Big South) and Charlotte (picked fourth out of 16 teams in Conference USA) entering the 2013-14 campaign.
Liberty vs. Charlotte At a Glance
Series Record: Charlotte leads, 1-0
Series Record at Charlotte: Charlotte leads, 1-0
Previous Meeting: Charlotte 62, Liberty 56 (March 16, 2011 at Charlotte - WNIT)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 337-110 (15th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Charlotte: 0-1
Charlotte Head Coach: Cara Consuegra
Overall Record (Seasons): 42-20 (Third Season)
Record at Charlotte (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Liberty: 0-0
Notes and Anecdotes
• The only previous meeting between Liberty and Charlotte came in the first round of the 2011 WNIT, on March 16, 2011. The host 49ers posted a 62-56 victory at Halton Arena, quickly ending the Lady Flames' first-ever WNIT appearance. Emily Frazier is the only current Lady Flame who played in that game, starting and playing 22 minutes at point guard. She tallied two points, five rebounds and three assists in the setback. Current 49ers Jessica Johnson and Gabby Tyler came off the bench, scoring three points apiece.
• Both teams were hit hard by graduation last season, as Liberty and Charlotte each lost three starters and 55 percent of their scoring from the 2012-13 campaign. The Lady Flames' most notable loss was 2,000-point scorer Devon Brown, while 2013 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jennifer Hailey graduated from the 49ers' roster.
• Expectations are high for Liberty and Charlotte entering the 2013-14 season. The Lady Flames were picked as the Big South Conference favorite for the 16th time in 17 seasons, while the 49ers were tabbed for a fourth-place finish in their first season back in the 16-team Conference USA.
• Charlotte will get a look at two of the Big South's best teams early in the season at Halton Arena, hosting preseason conference favorite Liberty tonight and second-place pick Winthrop on Nov. 26.
• Women's basketball is the second Liberty sport to open its season at Charlotte this year. The women's soccer squad lost its lid-lifter at Charlotte by a 1-0 count in double overtime on Aug. 23. However, the Lady Flames have gone on to enjoy one of their best seasons in program history. Liberty is currently 14-5-1 and will face High Point in the Big South Championship semifinals tonight at 7 p.m. in Conway, S.C.
At Home on the Road
Liberty won 11 straight road games to end the 2012-13 season and would tie a school record with a victory at Charlotte on Friday. The 1997-98 Lady Flames notched a program-record 12 consecutive road wins. Liberty has not lost a road game since suffering a 92-60 setback at No. 3/3 Baylor on Nov. 23, 2012.
The Lady Flames had won 14 straight games away from the Vines Center, including neutral-site tilts, before its 77-43 loss to No. 21/21 Purdue in the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship (March 24, 2013).
Liberty in Season Openers
All-Time Record in Season Openers: 19-19
Record Breakdown: 14-5 (Home), 5-9 (Road), 0-5 (Neutral)
Carey Green's Record in Season Openers: 7-7
Record Breakdown: 5-1 (Home), 2-4 (Road), 0-2 (Neutral)
Current Streak: Liberty lost its season opener in 2012-13.
Last Year's Season Opener: Duquesne 63, Liberty 46 (Nov. 9, 2012 at Duquesne)
Liberty's Last Win in an Opener: Liberty 61, UNCG 46 (Nov. 11, 2011 at UNCG)
Note: During Carey Green's first 14 seasons as Liberty's head coach, the Lady Flames have only won two season openers away from the Vines Center. Both victories came at UNCG, in the 2007-08 and 2011-12 lid-lifters.
Tipping Off in the Tar Heel State
Friday's game will mark the fourth time in the last seven seasons that Liberty has played its season opener in North Carolina. The Lady Flames won their first game of the season at UNCG in both 2007-08 and 2011-12. Meanwhile, Liberty lost a 40-35 contest to Creighton in the 2010-11 opener, as part of NC State's Sheraton Raleigh Wolfpack Invitational.
Tar Heel Trio
• Three Lady Flames hail from North Carolina, including sophomore Jaymee Fisher-Davis (Matthews), redshirt freshman Jessi Edmonds (Asheville) and freshman Mickayla Sanders (Clayton). That ties Texas as the state producing the most players on the 2013-14 Liberty roster.
• Fisher-Davis will be playing just 20 minutes from her home on Friday and could make her first career start in front of her local fans.
• Liberty will play six total games in North Carolina this season, also including tilts at UNCW (Dec. 19), High Point (Dec. 30), UNC Asheville (Jan. 18), Campbell (Feb. 1) and Gardner-Webb (Feb. 15).
Is It Basketball Season Already?!
Friday's game (Nov. 8) will mark the earliest in the calendar year that Liberty has ever tipped off a women's basketball season. The Lady Flames' previous earliest game fell on Nov. 9, last season at Duquesne in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT.
Liberty will play nearly a quarter of its schedule (7 of 29 games) before the calendar turns to December.
Frenetic Four Weeks
Liberty will tip off defense of its Big South Conference title four weeks from Saturday (Dec. 7) with a home game against Radford. Prior to the matchup with the Highlanders, the Lady Flames will face a number of challenges during the season's opening month.
• Liberty will play four 20-win teams from 2012-13, three WNIT qualifiers, two NCAA Tournament teams and Virginia of the ACC among its first eight contests of the season.
• The Lady Flames will play games in three different states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey), logging approximately 1,300 miles on the bus and spending 11 days away from Lynchburg.
Six newcomers dot the 2013-14 Liberty roster, including freshmen Moriah Begin, Simone Brown, Tesh Hanson, Audrey Rettstatt, Mickayla Sanders and Emily Stotmeister. This is Liberty's largest group of newcomers since the 2005-06 Lady Flames also boasted six freshmen (Alexandria Bream, Megan Frazee, Molly Frazee, Moriah Frazee, Rachel Hammond and Rebecca Lightfoot).
That season, Megan and Moriah Frazee both started right away and were the two leading scorers for Liberty, which went 25-6 and captured the Big South regular-season and tournament titles.
Big Shoes to Fill
Liberty will have to compensate for the loss of a talented five-member senior class, which graduated at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. The departing Lady Flames included Devon Brown, Brittany Campbell, Terika Lunsford, Tolu Omotola and LaKendra Washington.
• Brown and Omotola both made the 2013 Big South All-Conference first team roster, while Brown, Campbell and Omotola were all named to the 2013 Big South All-Tournament team.
• In 2012-13, Liberty's five seniors combined for 1,334 points (55 percent of the team's total), 657 rebounds (41 percent of the team's total) and 3,100 minutes played (46 percent of the team's total.)
• Led by Brown's 2,001 points, the five graduated seniors totaled 3,888 career points. By comparison, the nine returnees on the 2013-14 roster have scored a combined 1,818 career points.
A Familiar Face in a New Place
Brittany Campbell will be a part of the Liberty women's basketball team for the sixth consecutive season in 2013-14, albeit in a different role. She was a player on the Lady Flames' roster for five years (2008-09 through 2012-13), before being hired as an assistant coach upon graduation.
Campbell is the first assistant coach Carey Green had to hire since the spring of 2007, when Alexis Sherard and Andrea "Andy" Bloodworth joined the staff. Campbell replaces Heather Stephens, who stepped down as the longest-tenured assistant coach (10 years) in program history.
Making a Point
Head coach Carey Green will have the luxury of three experienced point guards on the 2013-14 Liberty roster in redshirt junior Emily Frazier, junior Reagan Miller and sophomore Sadalia Ellis. Frazier and Miller have combined to start the Lady Flames' last 97 games at point guard, dating back to Nov. 20, 2010, and both are past Big South All-Freshman team members. Ellis gained key experience at the end of her freshman season, totaling 54 minutes played in the Big South Championship title game and NCAA Tournament.
The Container is Half Full
The Lady Flames went 7-0 last season and are now 93-1 under head coach Carey Green when making at least 50 percent of their field goals.
The Container is Half Empty
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, only seven teams have shot 50 percent against Liberty in 198 games. By way of comparison, the Lady Flames have shot 50 percent 54 times during that span.
For the sixth straight season and the 16th time in the last 17 years, Liberty was voted to win the Big South Conference title by the league's head coaches and a panel of media members.
Additionally, redshirt junior point guard Emily Frazier was named to the preseason all-conference team. She led the Big South in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.81) and ranked second in assists (4.7 apg) in 2012-13, before suffering a season-ending injury on Feb. 16.
Great Expectations, Part 2
Liberty opens the season ranked No. 19 in the CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major Top 25, which covers 22 different conferences. The lone Big South team to appear in the preseason poll, the Lady Flames ended the 2012-13 season listed No. 16 in the poll.