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Liberty Hands James Madison First Loss, 79-66
The Lady Flames shot over 50 percent for the second-straight contest, finishing at 52.8 percent from the field in their fifth-consecutive triumph. James Madison entered the contest ranked No. 2 nationally in rebounding margin, but Liberty won the battle of the boards, 41-38. Liberty is now 7-1 on the season.
Meanwhile, James Madison falls to 6-1 after losing in its first visit to the Vines Center. The Dukes' top two scorers, Tamera Young and Dawn Evans, combined to shoot just 14-of-45 on the evening. James Madison is receiving votes in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Polls.
The visiting Dukes scored on their first three possessions of the evening and led by a 7-2 count after Young's old-fashioned three-point play at 18:34.
Liberty responded with six of the next eight points, narrowing the gap to 9-8 on Moriah Frazee's third hoop of the first three-and-a-half minutes.
James Madison's lead fluctuated between one and four points during the next several minutes, as both teams shot 50 percent or higher before the second media timeout, at the 11:30 mark. JMU, aided by five early offensive caroms, led 21-17 at that juncture. Moriah Frazee kept it close by posting 11 of Liberty's first 17 markers.
The Dukes' advantage reached six, 25-19, with 9:41 on the first-half clock after a Jasmin Lawrence fast break layup.
The homestanding Lady Flames were then able to put together an 8-1 burst and take their first lead of the game, 27-26, 6:00 before halftime. Megan Frazee's third basket of the surge put Liberty on top briefly.
JMU came right back with five-straight tallies, reclaiming a 31-27 edge on Evans' driving layup down the lane at 4:19.
The lead continued to see-saw back and forth, as Liberty responded with six-straight points, grabbing a 33-31 advantage. Molly Frazee contributed four markers to the surge, including a pair of free throws at the 2:42 mark.
James Madison tied the score twice, but Liberty took a 37-35 lead into the locker room, courtesy of Moriah Frazee's seventh field goal of the opening 20 minutes.
Frazee led all players with 15 first-half points, sinking 7-of-8 field goals. Sister Megan Frazee pulled down a team-best seven boards and added eight points of her own.
Liberty shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) from the field prior to the break and outrebounded the Dukes, 23-16, after JMU's quick start on the glass. The Lady Flames' field goal percentage was aided by their 26 points in the paint.
The Dukes were paced offensively by Evans and Young, who tallied 11 points apiece during the opening half.
Liberty's edge reached five points twice during the early stages of the second half. The Lady Flame lead stood at 43-38 after a Megan Frazee three-point play at 18:04, which put her in double digits for the 20th-consecutive game.
Another basket by Megan Frazee, this one a baseline jumper in transition, increased Liberty's edge to 50-43 with 13:58 left, necessitating a timeout by James Madison coach Kenny Brooks. Frazee's hoop was part of a 7-2 Lady Flame surge, which pushed the home team's advantage to 53-45.
Megan Frazee continued her second-half offensive push, draining a pair of free throws at 9:47 to give the Lady Flames their first double-digit advantage, 59-49.
Freshman center Lauren Jimenez came off the James Madison bench for the first time in the game and tallied nine-straight Duke points. Her three-point play at the 9:01 mark finished a 5-0 burst, which sliced JMU's deficit in half.
On Liberty's ensuing possession, the Lady Flames made their first three-pointer of the contest, a timely connection by Courtney Watkins which halted the James Madison run and increased her team's lead to 62-54. Rebecca Lightfoot followed with five-straight points, boosting Liberty's advantage to 13 points after her bank shot at 5:54.
The Dukes were unable to get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the way, and Liberty led by as many as 15 markers before closing out a 79-66 victory. The win was the Lady Flames' first in four all-time meetings with their in-state rivals.
Megan Frazee scored 12 of her team-high 20 points after the intermission and completed her fifth double-double of the year with a game-high 12 caroms. Moriah Frazee finished with 17 points and six rebounds and has now made 16 of her last 18 field goal attempts, spanning the last three contests.
Watkins added 13 points and equaled her career best with seven boards. Lightfoot contributed 11 points and three steals, while making six of her seven free throws. Her efforts from the stripe aided Liberty in shooting 80.8 percent (21-of-26) for the contest.
Allyson Fasnacht posted her best all-around performance of the young season, tallying a season-high 10 points, tying her career high with six rebounds and adding a game-high six assists.
Tuesday's game marked the first time since Jan. 29, 2005, all five of Liberty's starters scored in double figures. Fasnacht, then a freshman, was part of the quintet which accomplished the feat in an 86-71 home win over Radford.
Young ended up with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three steals, but shot only 4-of-14 from the field in the second half. Evans, who has already won a trio of Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie of the Week honors this season, struggled from outside. She drained only one of her 12 three-point attempts in a 15-point performance.
Kisha Stokes also finished with a double-double for JMU, ending up with 10 points and 11 rebounds. She hauled in five of the Dukes' 20 offensive boards, which were converted into 25 second-chance points.
Liberty will continue its four-game homestand Saturday at 1 p.m., when Binghamton (1-6) of the America East Conference visits the Vines Center.