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Team Effort Lifts Lady Flames Over Chanticleers
The Lady Flames lost leading scorer Megan Frazee in the opening minutes of the second half, but the rest of the squad stepped up in her absence and lifted Liberty to a 70-61 Big South victory over visiting Coastal Carolina, Monday evening, at the Vines Center.
With the victory, the Lady Flames start the conference season with a 2-0 record (10-4 overall), marking the sixth-straight season that Liberty has started league action 2-0. After winning six-straight heading into their northern conference swing, Coastal Carolina drops its second straight to start league play with an 0-2 record (9-4 overall).
Liberty scored the first five points of the contest and held Coastal Carolina scoreless over the first four-plus minutes of action as the Chanticleers didn't get on the scoreboard until Calisha Yates connected on a lay-up at the 15:29 mark.
But the basket started a 17-4 run for Coastal Carolina as a three-pointer by Amber Rose with 11:45 left to play in the opening period gave the Chanticleers an eight-point lead, 17-9. However, Liberty responded with a run of its own as the Lady Flames scored 12 of the game's next 14 points and regained the lead on a three-pointer by Molly Frazee (Fr., G, Xenia) at the 8:25 mark.
Over the next four minutes, Coastal Carolina slowly regained the lead and extended its advantage to four points, 28-24, on a jumper by Yates with 4:12 left before the break. But Liberty would hold the visitors to just one more point over the rest of the half and closed the period on a 11-1 run that was capped by a Rachel Hammond (Fr., G, Clearwater, Fla.) three-pointer with 31 seconds to give Liberty a 35-29 edge at the break.
After a pair of Courtney Watkins' (So., G, Bristol, Tenn.) free throws at the 18:14 mark, Megan Frazee (Fr., G, Xenia, Ohio) collected a defensive rebound off a missed attempt by Rose; however, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, who came into the game averaging 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, came down wrong on her left leg, tweaking her knee which sent her to the sidelines for the rest of the game.
Coastal Carolina took advantage of Liberty's leader being on the bench as the Chanticleers closed the gap to three points, 40-37, on a jumper by Kim Turner with 15:45 left to play. But, the Lady Flames responded and scored five-straight points on lay-ups by Watkins and Karolina Piotrkiewicz (Jr., F, Calais, France) and a free throw by Roli-Ann Nikagbatse (So., G/F, Berlin, Gerlin) to open up an eight points lead, 45-37 with 11:09 left to play.
Coastal Carolina was able to trim the lead back to as few as six points on two separate occasions over the final 11 minutes, including a Turner lay-up with 6:26 left to play, 51-45, but that would be as close as the Chanticleers would get as Liberty slowly extended its margin to as much as 12 points before settling for the final nine-point victory.
All but two of the 13 players that saw playing time for Liberty found the scoring column with Watkins tying a career high with 12 points, which was aided by a 6-of-8 outing at the line, while Moriah Frazee (Fr., G, Xenia, Ohio) also netted 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.
Coastal Carolina had three players finish in double figures with Rose leading the way with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the line. Turner followed with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Demaria Young came off the bench to score 11 points.
The Lady Flames will close out a five-game homestand when they host Winthrop on Saturday in the Vines Center at 2 p.m., while Coastal Carolina returns to action on Saturday as well as they host Birmingham-Southern at Kimbel Arena at 2 p.m.