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Lady Flames Begin their Quest for their 10th Straight Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship
Liberty picked up its 22nd-straight victory against Charleston Southern and began its journey for its 10-straight Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship with a 62-46 victory over the Lady Buccaneers this evening in the Vines Center.
With the win, the Lady Flames improved to 23-5 on the season and picked up their 26th-straight tournament win, while the Lady Buccaneers end the season with a 7-21 record overall.
Liberty jumped out quickly on Charleston Southern as a put back and a free throw by Moriah Frazee (Fr., F, Xenia, Ohio) gave the home team a four-point lead, 5-1. However, it was a lead that would be short lived as a Keena Wicker layup capped off a 12-5 run for the visitors and gave them a 13-10 lead with 11:57 to go.
The Lady Flames responded, as Egle Smigelskaite (So., F, Klaipeda, Lithuania) took a pass from Allyson Fasnacht (So., G, Salem, Va.) and knocked down a jumper to ignite a 19-6 run and give Liberty a 10 point lead at the 3:19 mark.
A jumper and free throw later by Shaunte Small cut the lead to seven, but Michelle Parker's (Jr., G, Miami, Fla.) jumper with 38 seconds remaining sent Liberty into the half up 11, 33-22.
Charleston Southern came out of the half looking to trim the lead back and give Liberty its first loss in the Vines Center this season as Wicker scored eight of the Lady Buccaneers' next 11 points pull her team to within six (39-33), but a Smigelskaite jumper and Rachel Hammond's (Fr., G, Clearwater, Fla.) four-point play pushed the margin back to 11 with 10:14 to go.
Liberty extended its lead to 15 on two of Parker's team-high 13 points and Charleston Southern was forced to trade fouls for free throws over the final two minutes of the contest as the Lady Flames won their 12-straight tournament game at home and improved to 10-3 in the first round of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Championship.
Parker led the way for Liberty, connecting on 5-of-8 shots from the field and all three of her attempts from the free throw line to finish with 13. Karolina Piotrkiewicz (Jr., F, Calais, France) grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, while recording eight points.
For Charleston Southern, Small collected a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Wicker tallied a game-high 18 points, going 8-of-15 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line. Deborah Cherry led all players with seven assists.
The Lady Flames advance to the semifinals of the tournament where they will take on the Eagles of Winthrop on Friday at 6 p.m. in the Vines Center, followed by High Point and Coastal Carolina at 8:30 p.m. for the right to play for championship on Saturday afternoon.
Liberty Coach Carey Green
"It's March Madness and we have to respect everyone. This one's over and now it is time to move on and prepare for Winthrop."
" With [Keena] Wicker in there, it was a difference. [Shaunte] Small stepped up her game too and really did a good job, so you have to give them credit, they came to play."