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Lady Flames Take Defensive Struggle, 45-38
Liberty improves to 3-19 all-time versus its in-state foe despite making only three shots from the field in the second half. The Lady Flames are 12-2 on the season. Richmond, which shot a season-low 25.0 percent (13-of-52) from the floor, dropped its third-straight decision, falling below .500 at 7-8.
Megan Frazee scored Liberty's first seven points, helping stake the Lady Flames to an early 9-4 edge. Sister Moriah Frazee's fast break layup at 12:13 capped the home team's game-opening surge. Meanwhile, Richmond misfired on 10-consecutive field goal attempts during the Liberty run.
The Spiders came back to tie the score twice during an ensuing 7-2 spurt. Freshman Brittani Shells tallied four points during the surge, including a jumper from the top of the key as the shot clock expired, 8:17 before the half. Her connection knotted the two teams at 11 apiece.
Richmond's next points did not come until the 1:54 mark, when Katie Holzer canned a layup to halt a string of eight-straight Lady Flame markers. Molly Frazee had put Liberty on top, 19-11, with a three-pointer on the possession prior to Holzer's field goal. Frazee's three points were the only tallies by either team's reserves in the first half.
Megan Frazee then closed out the half in the same manner she had started it. She made back-to-back layups, increasing Liberty's halftime advantage to 25-16. The Spiders became the fourth team the Lady Flames have held under the 20-point mark in the first half this year.
Frazee paced all players in both points (11) and rebounds (6) during the opening 20 minutes. Allyson Fasnacht added five points, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot for the Lady Flames. Shells was Richmond's most potent threat at the offensive end, countering with eight points.
Liberty shot 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from the field during the opening half. Richmond was limited to 22.2 percent (6-of-27) field-goal efficiency, but kept the score close due to its work on the boards.
The Spiders outrebounded the Lady Flames, 17-16, before halftime, headed by Holzer's five caroms. Richmond also limited Liberty to a single offensive board.
The Spiders emerged from the locker room with increased success at the offensive end. Richmond tallied the initial seven points of the half, trimming its deficit to 25-23 when Holzer sank a layup, 2:48 after the intermission.
Liberty held the visitors scoreless for 9:02, fashioning an 8-0 run in the meantime. Megan Frazee, who contributed six tallies to the Lady Flame surge, gave Liberty its first double-digit lead of the contest, 36-26, with a pair of free throws at the 8:36 mark. The foul shots also put Frazee over the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season.
Holzer brought an 11-minute Richmond field-goal drought to an end on a shot from the paint with 3:30 showing on the Vines Center scoreboard, bringing her team within eight, 38-30.
Kara Powell's two charity tosses with 1:03 left cut the deficit to 40-34. But that's as close as the Spiders would get, as Liberty closed out a 45-38 triumph by draining five-of-six free throws in the final minute. The 45 points marked the fewest the Lady Flames have scored in a victory since edging Radford, 36-32, on Jan. 27, 2001.
Free-throw shooting helped the Lady Flames offset their cold performance from the field during the final 20 minutes. Liberty connected on 13 of its 14 second-half charity tosses, good for a 92.9-percent clip, while hitting only 15 percent (3-of-20) of its field goal tries. For the game, the Lady Flames shot 34.1 percent (14-of-41) on field goals and were held below 60 points for the first time all season.
Megan Frazee was able to put together a productive performance, despite the stiff defense being played at both ends of the floor. She notched a game-high 23 points and hauled in eight rebounds. Defensively, Frazee played a role in keeping the Spiders' leading scorer this season, Johanna McKnight, off the scoreboard altogether. McKnight missed all 10 of her field goals in the contest.
Senior backcourt mates Fasnacht and Courtney Watkins complemented Frazee's effort with solid performances of their own. Fasnacht came up with seven points, four rebounds and a team-high three assists. Watkins struggled offensively, but hauled in six boards and had two of Liberty's four steals.
Like Megan Frazee, Shells provided more than 50 percent of her team's points (20 out of 38). The rookie guard also collected seven rebounds and distributed three assists.
Holzer added eight points and eight boards for the Spiders. Her rebounds helped Richmond defeat Liberty on the glass by a 38-33 count.
Megan Frazee was honored prior to tip-off for becoming the 11th player in Liberty history to score 1,000 career points. She achieved the milestone Dec. 30 at No. 4 North Carolina.
Liberty will play the final road game of its non-conference schedule Tuesday evening at East Tennessee State. Tip-off for the first meeting between the Lady Flames and Buccaneers since 1999 is set for 7 p.m., at the Memorial Center.