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Lady Flames End Regular Season With Home Victory Over Highlanders
The Lady Flames closed out another perfect regular-season home record today as Liberty fended off a late run from Radford to pick up a 69-58 win, Saturday afternoon, at the Vines Center over their arch rival.
With the victory, the Lady Flames up their Big South record to 13-1 on the year (22-5 overall) and finish off the regular season with a perfect 12-0 home record, marking the third time in the last four years they have accomplished the feat and the fourth time overall in the history of the program.
The loss evens Radford's conference record at 7-7 (14-13 overall) and drops the Highlanders into a mix of four teams that are fighting for the last two remaining home seeds in the upcoming Big South Women's Basketball Championship.
The Highlanders' tournament fate will be determined later on today after UNC Asheville and Coastal Carolina finish up their games. Liberty on the other hand has already clinched the top seed in the upcoming tournament as the nine-time defending Big South champions will begin their quest for an unprecedented 10-straigh-league title against eighth-seeded Charleston Southern on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.
The game remained close over the first several minutes of action as a jumper by Sarah Stephens knotted the game at 7-7 with 14:57 left to play in the first half. Liberty attempted to break the game open with a 7-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Allyson Fasnacht just two minutes later.
But the Highlanders didn't go away as Radford slowly chipped away at the Lady Flames' advantage by scoring 10 out of the game's next 14 points, trimming the lead back to one point, 18-17, on a trey by Corrie Fertitta at the 7:37 mark. Radford got within one point on two more occasions over the remainder of the half, but the two teams eventually settled on a three-point Liberty lead at the intermission, 28-25.
The Lady Flames opened the second half on a 10-3 run to push their lead to double digits, while a pair of free throws by Fasnacht gave Liberty's its largest lead of the game at 13 points, 44-31, with 12:05 left in the contest.
Liberty maintained the 13-point lead over the next five minutes of play, but the Highlanders stepped up their defensive pressure and forced the Lady Flames to turn the ball over on three-straight possessions, allowing the visitors to cut the lead to six points, 48-42, on a jumper by Kelli Darden at the 6:08 mark.
Liberty regrouped and pushed its lead back to 11 points on an old fashion three-point play by Fasnacht with 4:40 left to play, while Radford rattled off five-straight points to cut the lead back to six points, 53-47, on another Darden jumper with 2:48 left in the contest.
But Moriah Frazee netted six of her team-high 15 points over the next 90 seconds to squelch the last Highlander run and seal the win for the Lady Flames.
Moriah Frazee's 15 points came off of 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line, while adding a team-best six rebounds. Courtney Watkins followed with 11 points and four steals, while Roli-Ann Nikagbatse added 10 points, five rebounds and a team-best four assists.
The Highlanders were paced by Shavon Earp as the guard tied Frazee for scoring honors with 15 points, while Fertitta followed with 11 points, six boards, four assists and two steals. Stephens came off the bench to lead the team with seven rebounds and added six points and two blocked shots.