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WBB Game Day Central: UNC Asheville
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Liberty (15-10, 11-5 Big South) will play its next-to-last home game of the regular season on Thursday at 7 p.m., when UNC Asheville (10-15, 7-9 Big South) visits the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will look to avenge an 83-80 overtime setback at Asheville from Jan. 18.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) If Liberty is victorious on Thursday, the Lady Flames will clinch a top-five seed and a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
2) After posting an 83-80 overtime win over Liberty on Jan. 18 at Kimmel Arena, Asheville has a chance to become just the fourth team in Carey Green's 15 seasons at Liberty to sweep the two-game regular-season series from the Lady Flames. High Point did so in 2006-07 and 2013-14, while Gardner-Webb accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Additionally, the Bulldogs have never defeated the Lady Flames twice in the same season in program history.
3) Asheville leads the Big South in free throw percentage (.760) while Liberty ranks second at .732. Free throw shooting played a key role in the teams' first matchup this season, as the Bulldogs went 23-of-26 (88.5 percent), while Liberty was just 25-of-37 (67.6 percent).
4) Liberty will aim to continue its run of strong defensive efforts. The Lady Flames are yielding just 49.8 ppg in the last four contests and rank No. 12 nationally in field goal percentage defense (.350).
5) Liberty has outscored its opponent in bench points in nine straight games, and Sadalia Ellis is a big reason why. The sophomore guard has scored in double figures in each of her last two outings.
Liberty vs. UNC Asheville At a Glance
Series Record: Liberty leads, 47-8.
Current Streak: UNC Asheville won the most recent meeting.
Series Record at Liberty: Liberty leads, 24-2.
Current Streak at Liberty: Liberty has won six consecutive meetings.
Last Meeting Overall: UNC Asheville 83, Liberty 80 (OT) (Jan. 18, 2014 at Asheville)
Last Meeting at Liberty: Liberty 75, UNC Asheville 49 (Jan. 5, 2013)
Liberty's Last Series Victory: Liberty 75, UNC Asheville 43 (Feb. 21, 2013 at Asheville)
Asheville's Last Series Victory at Liberty: Asheville 54, Liberty 51 (Feb. 24, 2007)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 352-120 (15th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. UNC Asheville: 32-2
UNC Asheville Head Coach: Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick
Overall Record (Seasons): 12-43 (Second Season)
Record at UNC Asheville (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Liberty: 1-2
Notes and Anecdotes
• UNC Asheville defeated Liberty 83-80 in overtime on Jan. 18 at Kimmel Arena, snapping a 16-game home losing streak in the head-to-head series against the Lady Flames.
• Asheville is just 2-5 since that Jan. 18 meeting, though, including a run of four straight road losses.
• Liberty has won six straight home matchups with the Bulldogs since UNC Asheville notched a 54-51 victory at the Vines Center on Feb. 24, 2007. That season, Asheville went on to claim the Big South Championship title.
• Asheville will try to become just the fourth team in Carey Green's 15 seasons at Liberty to sweep the two-game regular-season series from the Lady Flames. High Point has accomplished the feat twice (2006-07 and this season), while Gardner-Webb did so in 2009-10.
• Moreover, Asheville has never defeated Liberty twice in the same season.
• The Bulldogs' leading rebounder, Paige Love (5.3 rpg), stands just 5-8.
• Asheville ranks No. 20 nationally in free throw percentage (.760). The Bulldogs shot 23-of-26 (88.5 percent) in their first meeting with the Lady Flames this season.
• The Bulldogs have made large strides this season, after a 2-28 campaign a year ago.
Liberty has played strong defense during its last four games, allowing 49.8 ppg and holding opponents to 31.9 percent field goal shooting. As a result, the Lady Flames have won three of those four contests.
• Liberty's recent run of staunch defensive efforts has enabled the Lady Flames to climb to No. 12 nationally in field goal percentage defense (.350).
What's at Stake?
If Liberty is victorious against UNC Asheville on Thursday, the Lady Flames would accomplish the following:
• Clinch a top-five seed and bye into the quarterfinals of the Big South Championship
• Guarantee a winning overall record for the 18th straight season
A Look Back at Liberty's 72-62 Win at Gardner-Webb
• Four players scored in double figures for Liberty, as the Lady Flames got back on the winning track with a 72-62 triumph at Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
• Liberty snapped a three-game road losing streak and became just the second visiting team to win at Paul Porter Arena in 2013-14. The Runnin' Bulldogs dropped to 11-2 at home.
• The Lady Flames were able to hold off Gardner-Webb by making 15 of 16 free throw attempts during the final 5:53. For the game, Liberty hit 76 percent (19-of-25) of its foul shots.
• Liberty continued its run of strong defense, limiting the Runnin' Bulldogs to 31.6 percent (18-of-57) field goal shooting.
• After shooting 1-of-17 from three-point range during its loss to Presbyterian College, Liberty made 7-of-16 three-point tries on Saturday for 43.8 percent.
• In a battle between the Big South's top two rebounding teams, Liberty pulled down 44 boards to Gardner-Webb's 36.
• Liberty equaled its season low with 11 turnovers for the second straight game.
• Sadalia Ellis scored 13 of the Lady Flames' 26 bench points, reaching double figures for the second game in a row.
• Ashley Rininger tallied 13 points in just 19 minutes played.
• Reagan Miller hit three triples as part of a 13-point effort. She also distributed five assists.
• Emily Frazier chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
• Katelyn Adams paced the Lady Flames in rebounding for the third consecutive game, grabbing nine rebounds. She also tied a season high with four blocked shots.
Liberty boasts a youthful roster this season, featuring seven freshmen and five sophomores among its 16 players.
• Freshmen and sophomores are scoring 79 percent of Liberty's points, grabbing 78.5 percent of the Lady Flames' rebounds and playing 76 percent of the team's minutes during the 2013-14 campaign.
After its 83-80 overtime victory over Liberty on Jan. 18, UNC Asheville has a chance to become just the fourth team to sweep the two-game regular-season series from Liberty during Carey Green's 15 seasons as head coach.
• High Point has already done so this season and also accomplished the feat in 2006-07. Gardner-Webb swept the series from the Lady Flames in 2009-10.
Defending Their Home Court
Liberty is 8-3 at the Vines Center this season, including 7-1 in Big South home tilts. If the Lady Flames win their last two home games, they will finish with 10 or more home victories for the 12th consecutive season.
Shifting Starting Lineups
Freshman Simone Brown made her first career start on Saturday at Gardner-Webb, becoming the ninth different Lady Flame to start this season.