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Lady Flames to Open Tournament Play Saturday
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Game Day Central
The Liberty Lady Flames (26-3, 11-1 Big South) enter the Big South Women's Basketball Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 10th time in the last 11 years, by virtue of claiming the regular-season conference title. After receiving a first-round bye, the Lady Flames will open tournament play in the first of Saturday's two semifinal contests, against either No. 4-seeded High Point (14-14, 6-6 Big South) or No. 5-seeded Coastal Carolina (16-11, 4-8 Big South).
The Last Time Out
Liberty held off Radford for a 70-62 Senior Night victory at the Vines Center, March 7. Egle Smigelskaite's putback at 4:30 of the second half sparked a 6-0 Lady Flames run, snapping a 54-54 tie. Megan Frazee paced all players in points (26), rebounds (13) and steals (5).
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. Jerod Brooks, who serves as the primary commentator for home games, is the color commentator on the road.
Lady Flames On TV
For the fifth year in a row, the Flames Television Network (FTN) broadcasted 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. Saturday's game will be televised by SportSouth, which will also cover Sunday's Big South title tilt.
Scouting High Point
The High Point Panthers may have to shake off some rust before they begin play in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship. Thirteen days will have passed since the Panthers' regular-season finale (a 65-59 win at Coastal Carolina on March 1) when they tip off their first-round contest against the same Chanticleer squad, Friday at 2 p.m.
The Panthers are seeded No. 4, after finishing with a 6-6 conference mark. High Point enters the tournament on a two-game winning streak, after sweeping a road trip to Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina.
High Point was seeded No. 1 at last year's Big South Women's Basketball Championship, but the Panthers were upset by No. 8-seed Winthrop in the first round, 57-50.
Many of coach Tooey Loy's players have no recollection of that contest, as five of the Panthers' six leading scorers are freshmen. Pacing the squad is Mackenzie Maier, a 6-3 forward who is a leading candidate for Big South Freshman of the Year. She is posting 12.0 ppg and 5.9 rpg on the season.
The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his ninth season with the Lady Flames. He owns a 211-67 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.759) ranked 12th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the beginning of the season. Green is 17-5 against High Point during his career.
Tooey Loy owns a career record of 114-89 and is in his seventh year as head coach of his alma mater. Loy has won two of the last three Big South Coach of the Year honors, capturing the award in 2005 and 2007. He is 4-12 versus the Lady Flames.
Liberty-High Point Series Notes
Liberty leads the all-time head-to-head series with High Point by a 21-8 margin, but the teams have split their last eight meetings. The Panthers have dealt Carey Green five of his 13 career losses to Big South competition.
High Point swept the season series from Liberty a season ago, but the Lady Flames returned the favor in 2007-08. Liberty took a 76-57 home decision on Jan. 29, despite shooting just 37.3 percent from the floor. The Lady Flames then prevailed, 78-68, at High Point on Feb. 23 to wrap up their first season sweep of the Panthers since 2003-04. Megan Frazee averaged 24.0 ppg and 10.5 rpg in the teams' two meetings.
The Lady Flames are 4-0 versus High Point all-time in the Big South Championship. The teams' most recent meeting came on March 11, 2006, in the championship game. Allyson Fasnacht's jumper with 14.9 seconds left clinched a 53-50 Liberty win at the Vines Center.
Scouting Coastal Carolina
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers enter the Big South Women's Basketball Championship as the No. 5 seed for the second-straight year. In 2007, Coastal Carolina was eliminated by UNC Asheville in the opening round, 65-51.
The Chanticleers earned their seeding by winning at in-state rival Charleston Southern, 58-45, in their final game of the regular season, on March 5. The victory, which featured a 20-point, nine-rebound evening by 5-11 sophomore forward Lacey Lyons, snapped a four-game skid.
Defense has been Coastal Carolina's strong suit this year, as the Chanticleers have fashioned their third-consecutive winning season. Coastal Carolina is No. 17 in the nation in scoring defense, yielding only 55.6 points per contest. When the Chanticleers hold a foe under 60 points, they are 15-2. However, they are just 1-9 when the opposition scores 60 or more points.
Lyons has paced her team's offensive attack all season and ranks sixth in the conference at 12.7 ppg. She is also listed No. 31 nationally with 2.5 made three-pointers per game, although Lyons hit only two of her 10 long-range attempts against Liberty this season.
The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his ninth season with the Lady Flames. He owns a 211-67 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.759) ranked 12th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the beginning of the season. Green is 21-0 versus Coastal Carolina, his alma mater, during his career.
Alan LeForce, the longest-tenured head coach in the Big South, owns a 159-149 record in his 11 years at Coastal Carolina. The 1998-99 Big South Coach of the Year is 399-229 in his 26 seasons of collegiate head coaching.
Liberty-Coastal Carolina Series Notes
Liberty is 39-7 all-time versus Coastal Carolina and has won 29-straight meetings with the Chanticleers. Coastal Carolina's most recent victory in the teams' head-to-head series came on Feb. 19, 1996.
The Lady Flames swept the season series from the Chanticleers in convincing fashion. Liberty won by a 71-44 count in Conway, S.C., on Jan. 21 and came up with a 76-39 home decision on Feb. 16. The squads' first meeting featured a 20-2 Lady Flame run, while the tilt at the Vines Center included a 33-5 Liberty surge.
Coastal Carolina is Liberty's most common Big South Championship opponent, and the Lady Flames are 6-0 all-time versus the Chanticleers. Most recently, Liberty eliminated Coastal Carolina in the 2003 semifinal round, 78-68.
Fantastic in the First Game
Liberty is 13-3 all-time in its opening game of the Big South Championship. The Lady Flames have won 11-straight openers since losing to UNC Greensboro, 84-40, in the 1996 quarterfinals.
Breaking it Down by Location
Liberty is 17-0 all-time in Big South Championship contests played at home, 0-1 on the road and 14-5 when games are played at neutral sites. The Lady Flames' lone road contest was a 70-62 setback at Radford in the 1993 semifinals.
For the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, Liberty enters the Big South Championship as the No. 1 seed. The lone exception came last year, when Liberty was the No. 3 seed. The Lady Flames have captured the tournament title on all nine previous occasions as the No. 1 seed. Their other Big South championship came in 1997, when Liberty was the No. 2 seed.
All-time, Liberty has been seeded No. 1 10 times, No. 2 one time, No. 3 two times, No. 6 two times, No. 7 one time and No. 8 once. The Lady Flames have not won the tournament title when seeded No. 3 or lower.
Familiar Territory, Part 2
Liberty will compete in the Big South Championship semifinal round for the 12th-straight season and the 14th time in 17 all-time tournament appearances. The Lady Flames have gone on to claim the tournament title 10 out of 13 times they have reached the semifinals.
Success Versus Current Big South Teams
Liberty is 24-3 in Big South Championship games against the six other teams which currently comprise the conference. Radford is the only current conference member which has ever defeated the Lady Flames in the tournament, doing so in 1993, 1994 and 2007.
Unbeaten as the Higher Seed
Liberty owns a 29-0 record all-time in the Big South Championship when the Lady Flames are seeded higher than their opponents. Liberty enters this year's tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Commonwealth Teams in the Championship Game
Either Liberty or Radford has appeared in all 21 Big South Championship title games in history. However, the Lady Flames and Highlanders have never faced each other in the final contest.
A Look Back
The Lady Flames opened the 2007 Big South Championship as the No. 3 seed and faced No. 6-seeded Birmingham-Southern in the quarterfinal round, March 8 at the Justice Center. Liberty claimed a 70-58 triumph, sparked by double-doubles by Megan Frazee (29 points, 13 rebounds) and Karolina Piotrkiewicz (17 points, 15 rebounds).
The following evening, Liberty met No. 2-seeded Radford in the semifinal round. The Lady Flames built an 11-point second-half lead, but the Highlanders came back in the closing minutes. Kelli Darden hit a bank shot at the buzzer, giving Radford a 57-55 win and ending Liberty's 29-game Big South Championship winning streak. The decision also snapped the Lady Flames' 10-year run of Big South titles. Megan Frazee and Rachel Hammond notched 10 points apiece for the Lady Flames.
Frazee earned all-tournament team recognition, after averaging 19.5 ppg and 13.0 rpg during the first two tournament appearances of her career.
Closing with a Flourish
Last Saturday's game marked the 11th-straight season Liberty has met Radford in its last regular-season contest. The Lady Flames are 10-1 in the intrastate match-ups, with the lone loss coming by a 77-54 margin, last season at Radford's Dedmon Center. Seven of Liberty's 10 wins during the run have come by double digits. Liberty is just 16-17 in regular-season finales during program history, though.
Closing with a Flourish, Part 2
Liberty junior guard/forward Megan Frazee has stepped up her production during recent weeks. She recorded four-consecutive double-doubles to close out the regular season. During the four contests (at High Point, at Winthrop, at UNC Asheville, vs. Radford), Frazee averaged 22.0 ppg and 14.3 rpg.
Equaling a Record
Liberty's 70-62 triumph over Radford in the March 7 regular-season finale improved the Lady Flames' overall record to 26-3. Liberty tied a program record for most regular-season wins. The only other Lady Flames unit to reach the 26-win mark during the regular season was the 1997-98 squad, which went 26-0.
Liberty finished 13-0 at the Vines Center during the 2007-08 campaign, after defeating Radford 70-62 on March 7. The Lady Flames completed their home schedule with an unbeaten record for the fifth time in program history and for the third time in the last five seasons.
Liberty was 5-0 at home during its inaugural season of 1975-76, 18-0 at home in 1997-98, 13-0 at home in 2003-04 and 15-0 at home in 2005-06.
Marvelous in March
Liberty has gone 29-9 during the month of March under Carey Green, with seven of the setbacks coming in the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames are 7-1 in the regular season, 20-1 in the Big South Championship and 2-7 in the "Big Dance" during the year's third month, under his direction. Last season, Liberty was 1-2 in March. The Lady Flames are 2-0 during March 2008.
The Lady Flames are 37-34 all-time in March contests and did not pick up their first victory in the month until the program's 13th season. Liberty's initial March triumph was an 82-69 win over Randolph-Macon on March 3, 1988.
A Tradition of Success
Lady Flame seniors Allyson Fasnacht, Egle Smigelskaite and Courtney Watkins have been a part of 96 victories in their three-plus years with the program and have won at a .774 clip. The trio is the last portion of the 2005 "Sweet 16" qualifier remaining on the Liberty roster.
Coach Carey Green Versus The Big South
Liberty is 134-13 (.912) against Big South opponents under Carey Green's direction, since he took the helm of the program. The Lady Flames are 112-12 in regular season conference games and 22-1 in the Big South Championship.
The Lady Flames have not lost to current Big South members Coastal Carolina (21-0) and Charleston Southern (20-0) with Green as head coach.
Success Versus Tough Competition
The Lady Flames have played six teams this season who currently have 20 or more wins--East Tennessee State, James Madison, North Carolina, North Carolina A&T, Radford and Xavier. Liberty is 6-1 versus the 20-win squads.
Composure in Close Situations
The Lady Flames are 8-2 in games decided by 10 points or less during the 2007-08 campaign. By contrast, Liberty was only 6-10 in such games a season ago.
Frazee Among Nation's Elite
Megan Frazee is averaging 18.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg on the season, and is one of only nine players in the nation posting at least 18.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg, through March 6.
The other players on the short list include DeWanna Bonner of Auburn, Natalie Doma of Idaho State, Traci Edwards of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Crystal Kelly of Western Kentucky, Angel McCoughtry of Louisville, Courtney Paris of Oklahoma, Jenna Smith of Illinois and Tamera Young of James Madison.
Liberty's Iron Woman
Liberty senior shooting guard Courtney Watkins has yet to miss a contest, in the first three-plus seasons of her Lady Flame career. Her consecutive games played streak currently sits at 124. Liberty's contest against Houston on Nov. 24 was Watkins' 100th-consecutive game played for the Lady Flames. If Watkins can stay healthy, she is on track to break 2007 graduate Michelle Parker's Liberty and Big South records for career games played during the Lady Flames' second postseason contest. Parker finished with 125 career games played.
Watkins is tied with Daina Staugaitiene for second place on Liberty's career games played list. Watkins' classmate and backcourt mate Allyson Fasnacht has made 121 career appearances, and ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time list.
Junior Molly Frazee has also played in every game since she has been a part of the Liberty roster. The Buckeye State native has appeared in 91-straight contests.
Most Wins in Program History
Liberty has recorded 10 20-win seasons, all of which have come in the last 12 years. The 1997-98 Lady Flames set a school record with 28 wins, finishing the campaign at 28-1. This year's team is tied for second on the program's single-season wins list and would equal the school record if it wins this weekend's tournament.
Below are the winningest seasons in program history.
1) 28-1 (1997-98)
2T) 26-3 (2007-08)
2T) 26-7 (2004-05)
2T) 26-4 (2002-03)
5T) 25-6 (2005-06)
5T) 25-7 (2003-04)
7T) 23-8 (2001-02)
7T) 23-8 (1999-2000)
9) 22-8 (1996-97)
10) 21-8 (1998-99)
Dial Three Digits for Long Distance
The Lady Flames have made at least one three-pointer in a school-record 100-straight games, a streak which began on Feb. 26, 2005. Liberty set the mark at UNLV on Dec. 21. The Lady Flames previously went 82-consecutive games with a three-pointer between Jan. 24, 1998 and Dec. 20, 2000.
Going the Distance
Megan Frazee set a new career high by playing all 40 minutes of Liberty's 70-62 triumph over Radford, March 7 at the Vines Center. She had played 38 minutes on three previous occasions, at George Washington (12/10/06), at UNLV (12/21/07) and at UNC Asheville (03/01/08).
Frazee became the first Lady Flame to play 40 or more minutes in a game since a double overtime contest at American on Jan. 6, 2004. In the game, Kristal Tharp logged a school-record 48 minutes and Katie Feenstra played 47 minutes.
Spectacular on Saturday
Saturdays are generally popular among college students, and the Liberty women's basketball players are no exception. The Lady Flames have been victorious in all 11 Saturday contests this season, with nine of the victories coming by double digits.
Most recently, Liberty clinched the Big South regular-season title during a Saturday contest at the Justice Center, on March 1.
Freshman Rachel McLeod is the Lady Flame who has benefitted the most from Saturday tilts. For the season, the rookie is averaging 4.1 ppg and 1.9 apg. On Saturday, her numbers rise to 5.7 ppg and 2.6 apg.
Clamping Down on Defense
The Lady Flames have held their last 48 opponents under 50 percent from the field. The last Liberty foe to shoot 50 percent or higher was Marist, at the Maryland Terrapin Classic on Dec. 29, 2006.
Liberty has limited 14 of its 29 opponents to 35 percent or lower field goal efficiency this season, and the opposition is shooting just 33.8 percent versus the Lady Flames. Liberty ranks No. 2 nationally in the category.