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Liberty Set to Host Second-Place Winthrop
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Game Day Central
Two of the Big South's top teams will match up Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center, as conference leader Liberty (18-2, 3-0 Big South) plays host to second-place Winthrop (14-7, 2-1 Big South). The Lady Flames will look to close out their three-game homestand with their ninth-straight home victory. Liberty will also seek its 25th-consecutive win in the head-to-head series with the Eagles.
The Last Time Out
Liberty overcame an off shooting night by dominating the boards, Tuesday evening against High Point. The Lady Flames shot just 37.3 percent from the field, but outrebounded the Panthers by 17 caroms in a 76-57 conference win. Sisters Megan and Moriah Frazee led the way with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Lady Flame junior Rebecca Lightfoot posted her first career double-double, with 10 points and 10 boards.
Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games can be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, who is celebrating his 14th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will once again be handling the courtside play-by-play duties for most road games. Due to Hall's television responsibilities, Jerod Brooks will serve as the primary commentator for home games. Nick Pierce will step in as tonight's radio play-by-play voice.
Lady Flames On TV
For the fifth year in a row, the Flames Television Network (FTN) plans to broadcast all 13 home women's basketball games. FTN's regular announcing team consists of Ray Jones on play-by-play and Jamie Hall on color.
The Winthrop Eagles went 6-26 a season ago without a single upperclassman on their roster. This year, with nine letterwinners back in the fold, Winthrop has already matched a program Division I record with 14 victories. The Eagles opened their Big South slate with wins over High Point and Charleston Southern and are currently tied for second in the conference standings at 2-1.
Defense has been the key to Winthrop's early-season success, as the Eagles rank third in the nation (behind Connecticut and Rutgers) in field goal percentage defense. (Liberty ranks fifth nationally in the category.) Opponents are shooting just 33.4 percent from the field against Winthrop this season.
Ashley Fann, a 6-0 junior forward, is the reigning Big South Player of the Week and has done it all for Winthrop this year. She leads the squad in points (13.5 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg) and steals (1.2 spg). Fann also recently eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier. Classmate Tiffany Rodd is the Eagles' top outside sharpshooter. She is connecting on 40.9 of her tries from long distance and has made a team-high 56 three-pointers.
The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his ninth season with the Lady Flames. He owns a 203-66 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.755) ranked 12th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the beginning of the season. Green is 19-0 against the Eagles in his career.
Bud Childers owns a record of 36-74 in his fourth season at Winthrop. He is 423-313 in 26 total seasons as a collegiate head coach, including time at Cumberland College, Montevallo, Murray State, Louisville and James Madison. Childers is 1-8 against Liberty, with his one win coming during 1996-97, when he was at Louisville.
Liberty-Winthrop Series Notes
Saturday's contest will be the 40th meeting between Liberty and Winthrop. The Lady Flames are 33-6 in the series and have won 24-straight matchups against the Eagles. Liberty is 18-1 all-time versus Winthrop at the Vines Center.
The Lady Flames took both of last season's meetings, winning by a 69-42 count in Lynchburg on Jan. 22 and running to a 77-52 win at Winthrop on Feb. 13. Rachel Hammond scored 10 points in Liberty's home triumph against the Eagles and has scored in double figures three times in four career meetings with Winthrop.
Winthrop's last win against the Lady Flames was a 71-66 home decision in the 1996-97 regular-season finale, on Feb. 22, 1997. Jennifer Churchill paced the Eagles with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Elena Kisseleva sparked Liberty with 23 markers. Liberty won its first of 10 Big South Championships a week later.
Liberty in Big South Home Contests
With Liberty's 76-57 over High Point in its Big South home opener on Tuesday, the Lady Flames are now 91-22 (.805) all-time in Big South Conference home games. Since Carey Green took over as head coach in 1999-2000, Liberty is 52-5 (.912) at the Vines Center.
Liberty has posted a home conference record of .500 or better 15 times in 16 seasons as a Big South member. The only exception was a 2-5 home ledger in 1995-96.
Liberty is 8-0 at the Vines Center during the 2007-08 campaign, but the Lady Flames are not the only Liberty athletic team which has flourished at the Vines Center.
Liberty is unbeaten in the last 30 athletic contests played at the 17-year-old on-campus facility, since the volleyball team lost to James Madison on Sept. 18. The Liberty netters won 11-straight matches to end the year, the wrestling team tied N.C. State and the Flames men's basketball team has been victorious in its first 10 home decisions of the season.
Fabulous in February
Liberty has won 79 of its last 83 games played during the month of February, dating back to the 1997 Big South Championship. The only teams to defeat the Lady Flames during February since then are High Point (three times) and UNC Asheville (one time).
Liberty owns a 160-120 all-time mark during the year's second month, including a 60-4 record under Carey Green's direction. The Lady Flames, 6-2 in February a year ago, have seven February contests on the schedule in 2007-08.
A Perfect January
Liberty finished the month of January 7-0, recording its first unbeaten month since February 2006. The Lady Flames outscored their opponents by an average of 21.1 ppg during the month. Liberty was paced by Megan Frazee, who shot 57.8 percent from the field, averaged 19.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg and captured a pair of Big South Player of the Week honors.
Out of the Gate Quickly
Liberty opened Big South play with wins at Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina on Jan. 19 and 21, marking the ninth-straight year the Lady Flames have completed the "Beach Trip" with a 2-0 record. Liberty has never lost to either the Lady Buccaneers or Chanticleers under head coach Carey Green's direction, going 39-0 against the pair of South Carolina institutions.
Liberty is now 3-0 to open conference play for the ninth time in 17 seasons as a Big South member. The Lady Flames went on to win the Big South title on each of the previous eight occasions.
Receiving Some Recognition
Liberty received its first Top 25 vote of the season in the Dec. 10 AP Top 25 poll. The Lady Flames notched a season-high eight votes on Dec. 24 and earned two votes in the most recent poll, released on Jan. 28.
In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, Liberty garnered its first vote on Dec. 18 and received a season-best 14 votes in this week's poll, announced Jan. 29. The Lady Flames tied Hartford for the 33rd-most votes in the most recent poll.
The Lady Flames are currently on a seven-game winning streak, as they have not dropped a decision since an 88-67 setback at North Carolina on Dec. 30. Through the games of Jan. 30, Liberty is tied with LSU for the 15th-longest active streak in the nation. No. 1 Connecticut has won a nation-high 20-straight games to open the season. The Lady Flames are also tied for the 10th-longest streak in program history.
Liberty previously won nine-straight contests this year, spanning Nov. 23-Dec. 21. The nine-game run was the ninth-longest winning streak in Liberty history. Below are the Lady Flames' 10 longest winning skeins.
1) 28 games (Nov. 21, 1997 - Feb. 28, 1998)
2) 22 games (Dec. 21, 2002 - March 9, 2003)
3) 19 games (Jan. 6, 2004 - March 13, 2004)
4) 14 games (Jan. 28, 2006 - March 11, 2006)
5) 13 games (Jan. 24, 2002 - March 2, 2002)
T6) 12 games (Jan. 23,1999 - Feb. 27, 1999)
T6) 12 games (Jan. 15, 2005 - Feb. 21, 2005)
8) 11 games (Feb. 3, 2000 - March 4, 2000)
9) 9 games (Nov. 23, 2007 - Dec. 21, 2007)
T10) 7 games (Jan. 20, 1976 - Nov. 26, 1977) *spans two seasons
T10) 7 games (Feb. 28, 2005 - March 22, 2005)
T10) 7 games (Jan. 5, 2008 - Jan. 29, 2008)
Megan Frazee scored a game-high 22 points during Tuesday's win over High Point, while sister Moriah Frazee added a career-best 20 markers. The duo became the first set of sisters in the nation to score 20 points or more in the same game this season.
The feat is not unprecedented in Liberty women's basketball history. Twin sisters Sarah and Sharon Wilkerson, who played for the Lady Flames from 1997-2000, both went over the 20-point mark in the same contest four times during their career.
Molly Frazee, the third member of Liberty's triplets, joined her sisters in double digits during Tuesday's contest, tallying 11 points against the Panthers. The game marked the fourth time this year, and the second in a row, all three Frazees reached double figures. The Frazees also accomplished the feat three times during the 2006-07 campaign, bumping their career total to seven.
Junior Rebecca Lightfoot recorded her first career double-double against High Point, finishing with 10 points and 10 boards. She is one of three current Lady Flames with a double-double to her credit. Moriah Frazee's lone double-double consisted of 16 points and 11 caroms, Nov. 24 versus Houston.
Megan Frazee has posted 30 career double-doubles, eight of which have come this season. She leads all Big South performers in the category.
Recipe for Success
Several common themes have consistently contributed to Liberty wins this season. The Lady Flames are unbeaten when they lead with five minutes remaining (17-0), when they outshoot their opponent (17-0), when the opponent attempts more three-pointers (17-0), when they attempt more free throws (15-0) and when they control the tip (13-0).
Liberty's favorite day of the week is a popular one among college students. The Lady Flames have thrived in Saturday contests, going 6-0 overall and 4-0 at the Vines Center.
Hot in the Furnace
The 2007-08 campaign is the 16th season the Liberty University women's basketball team has called the Vines Center its full-time home. Liberty's first-ever contest at the Vines Center was an 86-74 loss to East Tennessee State, on Dec. 7, 1990, but the "Furnace" has served as a favorable venue for the Lady Flames over the years. Liberty is 173-49 (.779) all-time at the Vines Center, including 8-0 this season.
First Since Feenstra
Junior forward Moriah Frazee tallied a career-high 20 points against High Point during Tuesday's victory over High Point. She became the first Liberty player other than sister Megan Frazee to reach the 20-point plateau since March 22, 2005, when Katie Feenstra totaled 29 points against DePaul, enabling the Lady Flames to reach the "Sweet 16."
Megan Frazee accumulated 24 games of 20-plus points during the intervening period, including a 22-point outing on Tuesday.
Lady Flames in Elite Company
Liberty is both shooting the ball well from the field and limiting its opponents' field goal percentage this season. The Lady Flames rank ninth nationally in field goal percentage (.472) and are fifth in field goal percentage defense (.339).
No. 1 Connecticut is the only other team in the nation to rank in the top 10 of both statistical categories. The unbeaten Huskies are third in field goal percentage and first in field goal percentage defense.