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WBB Game Day Central: UNCW
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Liberty (4-5, 1-0 Big South) will close out the non-conference portion of its 2013-14 schedule Thursday at 11:30 a.m., traveling to UNCW (1-9, 0-0 CAA). The Lady Flames will be playing at Trask Coliseum for the first time in program history, as they seek to extend their three-game winning streak.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Liberty and UNCW are heading in different directions entering Thursday's matinee. The Lady Flames have won three straight games and four of their last five contests following an 0-4 start. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are looking to snap a seven-game losing skid.
2) The Lady Flames will aim for a victory in their final non-conference game of the regular season. Liberty is 3-5 in non-conference tilts thus far this season. The Lady Flames' final 19 games of the year will be Big South Conference matchups.
3) This will be the second meeting between Liberty and UNCW. The Lady Flames and Seahawks squared off for the first time in program history last season, as Liberty notched an 84-34 victory over UNCW inside the Vines Center on Dec. 8, 2012.
4) Liberty will look to continue its dominance in the rebounding category. After leading the nation in rebound margin in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, the Lady Flames currently rank second nationally this season, at +16.8. Liberty has outbrebounded opponents by 21.7 boards per game in the last seven contests.
5) Thursday's game will give the Lady Flames' trio of North Carolina natives (Jessi Edmonds: Asheville, Jaymee Fisher-Davis: Matthews and Mickayla Sanders: Clayton) a chance to play in their home state less than a week before Christmas. Fisher-Davis' mother, Carolyn, played basketball at UNCW.
Liberty vs. UNCW At a Glance
Series Record: Liberty leads, 1-0.
Current Streak: Liberty won the only previous meeting.
Series Record at UNCW: First meeting
Last Meeting: Liberty 84, UNCW 34 (Dec. 8, 2012 at Liberty)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 341-115 (15th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. UNCW: 1-0
UNCW Head Coach: Adell Harris
Overall Record (Seasons): 67-65 (Fifth Season)
Record at UNCW (Seasons): 6-35 (Second Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 0-1
Notes and Anecdotes
• Liberty was dominant in its first-ever meeting with UNCW, recording an 84-34 victory at the Vines Center on Dec. 8, 2012. The Lady Flames drained 11 three-pointers while holding the Seahawks to eight second-half points.
• Liberty will be facing its second CAA opponent of the season, after dropping a 67-56 home decision to James Madison on Nov. 12. JMU was picked to win the CAA title, while UNCW was selected eighth.
• Similarly, UNCW is playing against its second Big South foe of 2013-14. The Seahawks lost a 67-53 contest at Campbell on Nov. 19.
• Liberty and UNCW have faced one common opponent this year, Richmond. The Lady Flames defeated the Spiders at the Vines Center, 76-61, on Dec. 3. Four days later, Richmond returned home to post a 64-49 win over UNCW.
• On Nov. 18, the UNCW men's basketball team posted an 87-76 win at Liberty. Now the Lady Flames will attempt to record a road triumph over the Seahawks in their first-ever visit to Trask Coliseum.
• The Seahawks will attempt to snap a 7-game losing streak. UNCW's lone win of the season was a 65-62 home victory over Northern Kentucky on Nov. 16.
• UNCW is 1-2 at home this season and will be playing at Trask Coliseum for the first time since Nov. 22, when the Seahawks hosted Tulane.
• Jaymee Fisher-Davis' mother, Carolyn, played basketball at UNCW.
Liberty has won a season-best three games in a row. The following are some keys to the Lady Flames' recent success.
• Liberty is shooting the ball exceptionally well from the field (49.7 percent), three-point range (41.5 percent) and the foul line (81 percent). As a result, the Lady Flames are averaging 78.3 ppg during the winning streak.
• Liberty is doubling up opponents in rebounding while posting a +23.7 rebound margin.
• The Lady Flames' turnovers are down to 17.7 per game, after averaging 24.8 per contest during the season's first six games.
At Home on the Road
Liberty is just 1-2 in road games this season, but the Lady Flames have been successful away from the Vines Center in recent years. Liberty has won double-digit road games for four straight seasons, including an 11-3 mark in 2012-13.
• Liberty's North Carolina natives will get to play in their home state six times this season. Prior to Thursday's game, the Lady Flames played the 2013-14 season opener at Charlotte on Nov. 8. They will later play Big South contests at High Point (Dec. 30), UNC Asheville (Jan. 18), Campbell (Feb. 1) and Gardner-Webb (Feb. 15).
• UNCW recently signed Rebekah Banks to a national letter of intent for 2014-15. She was a high school teammate of Mickayla Sanders at Cary Academy in Cary, N.C.
Among the Nation's Elite
Liberty, which has led the nation in rebound margin during each of the last two seasons, is among the NCAA's top rebounding squads again in 2013-14. The Lady Flames' +16.8 rebound margin puts them second nationally, trailing only Baylor (+17.1).
• Liberty also ranks No. 15 in the nation for free throw percentage (.765).
• Individually, Ashley Rininger sits among the NCAA's top 50 performers in three categories. She is tied for 10th in double-doubles (6), 20th in field goal percentage (.604) and 42nd in rebounds per game (10.1 rpg).
Focus on Future
Thursday's game, UNCW's Seahawks Tomorrow contest, is Liberty's second straight contest with a youth theme. Liberty hosted Best Field Trip Ever Day at the Vines Center last Thursday, during an exhibition game against Anderson (S.C.).
A Look Back at Liberty's 70-49 Win Over Radford
• For the third straight season, Liberty opened Big South Conference play with a victory over Radford. The Lady Flames defeated the Highlanders, 70-49, on Dec. 7 at the Vines Center.
• It was Liberty's third straight win overall and sixth straight victory over Radford. The Lady Flames are now 13-1 in their last 14 conference openers.
• The game marked the 60th all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and Highlanders. Liberty has gone 35-4 in the last 39 matchups to take a 36-24 series lead.
• Liberty closed the first half with a 17-4 run, breaking open a tight game for good.
• The Lady Flames scored 50 points in the paint and held Radford to 34.5 percent (20-of-58) from the floor.
• Liberty recorded a season-best +29 (53-24) rebound margin while outscoring its opponent in bench points (21-11) for the seventh consecutive game.
• Ashley Rininger led all players in points (18) and rebounds (career-high 15) for her sixth double-double of the season and the ninth of her career. Rininger went over the 300-rebound mark for her career during the game and finished the contest at 308. She also made all four of her free throw attempts, extending her streak to 11 consecutive made foul shots.
• Catherine Kearney fashioned her first career double-double, with a season-high 11 points and a career high-tying 10 rebounds.
• Katelyn Adams wrapped up a successful day for the Lady Flames' trio of redshirt sophomore post players, contributing eight points and a season high-equaling nine rebounds, while blocking a season-best three shots. Rininger, Kearney and Adams totaled 37 points and 34 rebounds between them on the afternoon.
• Sadalia Ellis chipped in 10 points, a game-high five assists and a career-high four steals.
• Freshman Mickayla Sanders posted seven points and a career-high seven rebounds.
Back At It Again
Liberty is again excelling on the glass to start the 2013-14 season. The Lady Flames have outrebounded eight of nine opponents and own a +16.8 rebound margin. That ranks first in the Big South and second in the nation. During the last seven games, Liberty owns a +21.7 rebounding edge.
Feasting at the Foul Line
Liberty is shooting a Big South-best 76.5 percent from the free throw line to start the season. The Lady Flames' program record for free throw percentage is 72.8 percent, set in 2007-08.