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Winthrop Hands Lady Flames First BSC Loss
Liberty, which was nearly able to recover from a nine-point deficit in the final 7:30, is now 24-3 overall and 9-1 in Big South action. The Lady Flames lost their first game in the calendar year 2008, as their last setback came at North Carolina on Dec. 30.
The Eagles extended their winning streak to four games and matched a program record with their 19th win of the season. Winthrop, whose defense frustrated Liberty all evening and held the Lady Flames to 37.3 percent (19-of-51) field goal shooting, is 19-9 overall and 7-3 in conference action. The Eagles are tied with Radford for second place in the Big South standings, after defeating Liberty for the first time in their last 26 tries.
Winthrop guard Tiffany Rodd hit a three-pointer from the corner on the game's opening possession, helping her team jump out to a 4-0 advantage.
After Liberty came back to knot the score at 6-6 on Molly Frazee's hoop in the paint at 16:05, Winthrop composed a 12-2 surge. Shanice Cole's layup at the 11:27 mark gave the homestanding Eagles a double-digit lead, 18-8.
The Lady Flames cut the lead in half, thanks in large part to the hustle of Rachel Hammond off the bench. Hammond scored five points during a 7-2 burst, including a pair of free throws with 7:21 before the half, which made the score 20-15, Winthrop.
The Eagles rebuilt their lead to nine, 28-19, when Yvonne van Daalen made a triple with 1:35 showing on the first-half clock.
The Lady Flames tallied the final three points of the stanza, and trimmed their halftime deficit to 28-22 when Molly Frazee hit a free throw at the 48.4-second mark. Liberty had not trailed at the break since East Tennessee State held a 30-29 halftime edge against the Lady Flames on Jan. 8.
Liberty actually made a higher percentage of its opening-half field goals than Winthrop, 45.0 percent to 37.5 percent. However, 14 Lady Flame turnovers led to a dozen Eagle markers. Also, Winthrop went 8-for-11 from the free throw line during the first 20 minutes, while Liberty was just 3-for-5.
Hammond helped keep her team close in the first half, making all three of her field goals and both of her foul shots for nine points. Molly Frazee added five tallies.
Ashley Haugtvedt sparked Winthrop with six points, while van Daalen and Cole evenly split 10 points.
Both teams played most of the first half without their leading scorers. Megan Frazee only played six minutes before picking up her second foul, while Winthrop's Ashley Fann was limited to seven minutes of action due to foul trouble.
Consecutive long two-point jumpers by Megan and Molly Frazee brought Liberty to within three, 29-26, with 17:02 left.
Winthrop notched the next five markers and led by eight, 34-26, when Rodd made all three shots of a three-shot foul at 15:34.
Molly Frazee answered with a three-pointer on Liberty's ensuing possession, pulling her team back to five points down at 34-29.
That was as close as the visitors would get for the time being, as Winthrop's lead climbed back to nine on three occasions, 40-31, 42-33 and 46-37. The last nine-point edge came when Cole scored on a putback with 7:30 remaining.
Five-consecutive Molly Frazee points started an 8-2 surge by the Lady Flames. Megan Frazee's layup at the 3:50 mark cut the gap to 48-45.
After a Fann charity toss, Liberty scored seven of the next nine points, all courtesy of Megan Frazee. Her long jumper at 1:38 put the Lady Flames on top for the first time all evening, 52-51.
Rodd scored from just outside the paint on Winthrop's next possession, reclaiming a one-point edge with 1:08 left. Her little hook shot proved to be the game winner.
Liberty misfired on its last three shot attempts, and the Eagles closed out their first victory over the Lady Flames since Feb. 22, 1997 with a trio of van Daalen free throws in the last 20.3 ticks.
The Lady Flames outshot the Eagles from the field on the evening, 37.3 percent to 37.0 percent. Liberty also won the rebounding battle by a 39-32 count. However, 21 Lady Flame miscues and eight more made free throws by Winthrop proved to be Liberty's undoing.
Megan Frazee headed three Liberty double-digit scorers with a huge second half. The junior notched 15 of her game-high 17 points and collected all 12 of her rebounds after the intermission. She also scored the Lady Flames' last nine points of the game.
Molly Frazee added 15 points and five boards for Liberty. Hammond totaled a dozen points, to go along with six boards and a trio of steals.
Egle Smigelskaite made her first appearance of the 2007-08 season for Liberty, pulling down two boards and dishing out an assist in 12 minutes. The senior forward from Lithuania had missed the first 26 games due to a foot injury.
Franchesca Davenport ended up as Winthrop's leading scorer, tallying 10 of her 12 markers during the final 20 minutes. Haugtvedt chipped in with 10 points and a team-best seven caroms.
Liberty will conclude its three-game road trip Saturday at 2 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to UNC Asheville (11-16, 2-8 Big South). Liberty will attempt to complete a season sweep of the Bulldogs, after winning the first meeting by a 69-55 margin in Lynchburg on Feb. 9.
The Lady Flames will make two trips to the Justice Center in rapid succession. After Saturday's game, Liberty is slated to return to Asheville on March 14 for the start of the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.