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Lady Flames Claim Ninth Straight Big South Regular Season Title
Allyson Fasnacht had 14 points, while teammates Roli-Ann Nikagbatse and Courtney Watkins netted 13 each as the Liberty Lady Flames downed the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, 67-60, to claim its ninth straight regular season title, Saturday afternoon at the Justice Center.
With their ninth straight conference win and High Point's 62-51 loss against Coastal Carolina, Liberty captures its ninth straight regular season Big South title. The Lady Flames are now 11-1 in Big South play and improved to 20-5 overall, marking ninth time in the last ten seasons that they have recorded 20 or more wins. UNC Asheville falls to 6-6 in the conference and 15-10 overall.
Liberty would take the lead, 6-5 on a jumper by Fasnacht (So., G, Salem, Va.) and never trail the rest of the game at 14:30 of the first half. The guard's jumper triggered a 7-0 Lady Flames' run, capped by a three-point basket by Molly Frazee (Fr., F, Xenia, Ohio) to put Liberty up, 14-8.
UNC Asheville cut the lead to 19-17 at 6:28 of the period on a lay-up by Stacey Shepard, but the Lady Flames opened back up a five point advantage on an old-fashioned three point play by Nikagbatse (So., F, Berlin, Germany) on its next trip down the floor.
A three-pointer by the Bulldogs' Ashton Barton knotted the score at 24-24 with 2:57 left in the period, but Liberty went to the locker room at intermission up, 27-26, as Rebecca Lightfoot (Fr., F, Duluth, Ga.) hit from three-point range with 1:13 left.
In the second, UNC Asheville scored the first four points of the half for 30-30 tie at 16:41; however, the Lady Flames would use an 8-0 over the next 3:35 for a 42-34 advantage.
A layup by Jamie Feagin (Jr., F, Lockport, N.Y.) at 7:35 provide Liberty with its biggest lead of the afternoon, 53-41.
The Lady Flames never let the Bulldogs close the gap to less than six down the stretch as they made 7-of-9 from line over the final 56 seconds to secure the 67-60 victory.
Fasnacht led Liberty with 14 points, shooting 8-10 (80%) from the foul line for the game. Nikagbatse had 13 points, nine rebounds, and five steals, while Watkins also scored 13 points. Karolina Piotrkiewicz (Jr., C, Calais, France) lead all players with 10 rebounds.
UNC Asheville's Barton led all scorers matching her career-high with 20 points, while Shepard had seven rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
Liberty dominated on the boards holding a 41-30 advantage in rebounding. The Lady Flames had 20 offensive rebounds and converted those into 19 second chance points.
Liberty returns home on Monday to face Birmingham-Southern in a 7 p.m. game while UNC Asheville hits the road for its final two regular season games beginning on Wednesday night with a 7 p.m. game at Radford.