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WBB Game Day Central: Charleston Southern
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Liberty (6-6, 2-1 Big South) will play the middle contest of its three-game Big South road swing and its first game of 2014 Thursday at Charleston Southern (4-7, 1-2 Big South). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Buc Dome.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Liberty will look to bounce back from its 75-70 loss at High Point on Monday. The Lady Flames have not lost consecutive Big South games in nearly 17 years (Feb. 20 and 22, 1997). That stretch includes 280 games against conference foes. Liberty has won 15 conference titles since its most recent back-to-back Big South setbacks.
2) Thursday's tilt will be the Lady Flames' first game in South Carolina this season. Liberty is 47-4 when playing in the Palmetto State under head coach Carey Green and is 20-4 all-time at the Buc Dome. Liberty went 6-0 in South Carolina in 2012-13, highlighted by three victories in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
3) After an 0-4 start to the season, Liberty has won six of its last eight outings. Conversely, Charleston Southern started out 3-2 but has gone 1-5 since then.
4) Liberty will have to be wary of Charleston Southern senior guard DJ Fowler. She leads the nation in steals with 3.9 thefts per outing. With 43 steals, she has more than twice as many as the Lady Flames' leader, Emily Frazier (16).
5) Freshman Mickayla Sanders will look to continue her strong play. She has led the Lady Flames in scoring in back-to-back games, averaging 14.5 ppg against Campbell and High Point. She is the first Lady Flame to make 20 or more three-pointers during a season's first 12 games since Kristal Tharp in 2004-05.
Liberty vs. Charleston Southern At a Glance
Series Record: Liberty leads, 48-6.
Current Streak: Liberty has won five consecutive meetings.
Series Record at CSU: Liberty leads, 20-4.
Current Streak at CSU: Liberty has won two consecutive meetings.
Last Meeting Overall: Liberty 88, CSU 62 (March 2, 2013 at Liberty)
Last Meeting at CSU: Liberty 92, CSU 33 (Jan. 10, 2013)
CSU's Last Series Victory: CSU 54, Liberty 51 (Feb. 28, 2011 at CSU)
CSU's Last Series Victory at Home: Same
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 343-116 (15th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Charleston Southern: 31-1
Charleston Southern Head Coach: Fred Applin
Overall Record (Seasons): 25-47 (Fourth Season)
Record at Charleston Southern (Seasons): 12-27 (Second Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 1-3 (1-1 at Hampton, 0-2 at CSU)
Notes and Anecdotes
• Liberty's last visit to the Buc Dome (Jan. 10, 2013) was memorable for Ashley Rininger. She recorded her first career double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) and rejected a career-high five shots in the Lady Flames' 92-33 win.
• Charleston Southern is looking for a better January after going 1-5 in December. Conversely, Liberty finished December at 4-1.
• Liberty and Charleston Southern have two opponents in common--Radford and Savannah State. The Lady Flames defeated both teams. Meanwhile, CSU was victorious against Radford but lost twice to Savannah State.
• DJ Fowler, a 5-8 senior guard, leads the nation in steals with 3.9 thefts per game. She also tops the Buccaneers in scoring (11.5 ppg), assists (3.4 apg), field goal percentage (.529) and free throw percentage (.765).
• As has been the case in recent years, Charleston Southern relies heavily upon three-point shooting. The Buccaneers attempt 40.7 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. Senior guard Erin Bratcher leads the way with 27 made triples, which ranks second in the Big South.
• Charleston Southern has played well at home this season, going 3-2, but something will have to give as Liberty is 20-4 all-time at the Buc Dome.
Liberty in January
All-Time Record in January: 184-110
Carey Green's Record in January: 100-13
Record This January (Games Remaining): 0-0 (8 games remaining)
Last Five January Records:
2008-09 - 8-0
2009-10 - 8-1
2010-11 - 8-1
2011-12 - 7-1
2012-13 - 6-2
Success in South Carolina
Liberty has played very well in South Carolina during Carey Green's 15 seasons as head coach, going 47-4 in contests played in the Palmetto State.
Thursday's game at Charleston Southern is the Lady Flames' first game in South Carolina this season. Liberty will also play contests at Coastal Carolina (Saturday), Winthrop (Jan. 16) and Presbyterian College (Feb. 13). Additionally, the 2014 Big South Women's Basketball Championship will be played in Conway, S.C.
Shortage of Losing Streaks
Liberty will look to bounce back from a 75-70 loss at High Point on Monday. The Lady Flames have been very good at avoiding conference losing streaks in recent years.
• The Lady Flames have not lost back-to-back Big South games (including regular-season and tournament tilts) since Feb. 20 and 22, 1997 (versus UNCG and Winthrop).
• Since then, Liberty has played 280 games against Big South opponents and captured 15 conference titles.
Among the Nation's Elite
Liberty appears among the nation's leaders in several statistical categories in the most recent NCAA statistical report, which does not include Monday's game at High Point.
• As a team, the Lady Flames rank No. 3 in rebound margin (+16.3) and No. 23 in free throw percentage (.753).
• Individually, Ashley Rininger sits No. 16 nationally in field goal percentage (.605), No. 18 in double-doubles (7) and No. 43 in rebounding (10.1 rpg).
A Look Back at Liberty's 75-70 Loss at High Point
• Liberty cut a 14-point second-half deficit to three, Monday evening at the Millis Center, but High Point hung on for a 75-70 victory.
• The decision snapped a lot of streaks. Prior to Monday, Liberty had won 16 straight games against Big South opponents, 11 straight road games against Big South foes, seven straight road contests at High Point and five consecutive games overall. Additionally, High Point snapped a three-game losing skid and ended a stretch where the visiting team had won six straight times in the head-to-head series between the Lady Flames and Panthers.
• Liberty fell out of a share of the conference lead with its first Big South loss of the year, despite enjoying significant advantages in rebounds (48-30), points in the paint (32-10), second-chance points (19-6) and bench points (29-11). It was the 10th straight game that the Lady Flames won the rebounding battle.
• High Point shot well from three-point range (8-of-21 for 38.1 percent) and the foul line (19-of-24 for 79.2 percent) while converting Liberty's 27 turnovers into 16 points. Backcourt mates Kaylah Keys (19 points) and Lindsay Puckett (17 points) combined for all eight of the Panthers' made triples.
• Mickayla Sanders led the Lady Flames in scoring for the second straight game, tying her career high with 16 points. She scored 10 of her points after halftime and has now scored in double digits in consecutive games for the first time in her young career.
• Catherine Kearney also had a big second half, tossing in 12 of her career-high 14 points after the break. She added a game-high and career-best 13 rebounds for her second career double-double. Nine of the redshirt sophomore's boards came at the offensive end.
• Ashley Rininger was held to single digits in the scoring column for just the second time this year with seven points, but she did grab eight rebounds.
• Liberty set season highs for free throws made (24) and attempted (31), connecting on 77.4 percent of its foul shot opportunities.