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Liberty, ODU Prepare for Commonwealth Clash
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Live WWMC Radio Broadcast
Radio Simulcast on WRVL
Game Day Central
NCAA Tournament Bracket
The Liberty Lady Flames (28-3, 11-1 Big South) are making their 11th NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearance in the last 12 seasons. The No. 12 seed in the Greensboro regional, the Lady Flames will travel across the Commonwealth to play at No. 5 seed Old Dominion (29-4, 17-1 CAA), Sunday at 7 p.m. in an opening-round tilt.
The Last Time Out
Megan Frazee connected on the game-winning shot with just 0.3 seconds remaining in Sunday's Big South Women's Basketball Championship title contest against Radford. Her timely hoop lifted the Lady Flames to a 66-65 victory and earned their 11th Big South title in the last 12 seasons. Frazee, the tournament MVP, paced all players in both points (26) and rebounds (12).
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. Tonight's game will be simulcast on WRVL 88.3 FM.
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 and Jamie Hall.
Tonight's game will be broadcasted on ESPN2, with the announcing team of Marc Kestecher, Brenda VanLengen and Todd Harris. The Liberty-Old Dominion matchup will be one of four games televised by ESPN2 during the 7 p.m. timeslot (also Connecticut-Cornell, Duke-Murray State and Purdue-Utah).
For more information on ESPN's coverage of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship, please see the following paragraphs from an ESPN release:
Whip-around Coverage: For the first two rounds, multiple games (as many as four) will begin within one telecast window on ESPN or ESPN2 (note - games will have staggered tip times so each window will start with one particular game). During those windows, the networks plan to "whip-around" to the best action from different games for viewers in most of the nation (everywhere but the home markets of the competing teams). The networks plan frequent switches to and updates from other games as action dictates.
Regionalization/Home Market Protection: In the home markets of the competing teams, ESPN or ESPN2 will primarily televise the game of local interest. While constant updates from the other games will be provided, the networks, for the most part, will generally not switch to another game during live action, thereby establishing home market protection.
For the first-time ever, ESPN360.com, ESPN's sports broadband network, will offer complete coverage of all 63 games, while ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, will provide supplemental coverage during the first and second rounds. ESPNU will offer eight of the early-round matchups, all of which are also offered regionally and/or as part of whip-around coverage on ESPN or ESPN2.
Scouting Old Dominion
The Old Dominion Monarchs earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by winning the CAA Tournament championship for the 17th-straight season. The Monarchs, who erased an 18-point deficit to defeat VCU in last Sunday's title game, are 50-0 all-time in the conference tournament.
The Monarchs have won 23 of their last 24 outings, since falling to national powers Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee during the opening month of the season. Old Dominion's lone recent setback came at James Madison on March 2, by a 76-63 score. The Lady Flames defeated JMU, 79-66, at home on Dec. 4.
Old Dominion is making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance, and is 32-23 all-time in tournament play. The Monarchs captured the 1985 national title and lost in the 1997 championship game. ODU is seeking its first tournament victory since reaching the "Elite Eight" in 2002.
The Monarchs have flourished at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, going 14-0 this season. ODU brings a 24-game home winning streak into the NCAA Tournament, as the Monarchs' last loss in Norfolk came on Dec. 22, 2006, versus Tennessee.
ODU features a balanced attack, as five players are averaging between 9.1 and 13.2 ppg. Leading the way is T.J. Jordan, a 5-8 senior guard who has been a first-team All-CAA honoree each of the last two seasons. Tiffany Green, a 6-2 junior forward, was a second-team all-conference honoree and averages 11.3 ppg and a team-high 7.5 rpg.
The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his ninth season with the Lady Flames. He owns a 213-67 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.761) ranked 12th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the beginning of the season. Green has never faced Old Dominion and is 2-7 in the NCAA Tournament.
Wendy Larry is in her 21st season as ODU's head coach and is 501-164 with the Monarchs. Overall, she is 550-195 in 24 years as a collegiate head coach. Larry was named the national coach of the year in 1997 by several organizations, the same year she won her only meeting with Liberty.
Liberty-Old Dominion Series Notes
Liberty and Old Dominion have only met once previously on the hardwood. The No. 16 seed Lady Flames and the No. 1 seed Monarchs squared off in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on March 14, 1997. ODU claimed a 102-52 victory as it began its march to the national title game.
Liberty, which was making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, was paced by freshmen Elena Kisseleva and Sharon Wilkerson, who tallied 19 points apiece.
The Last Time We Were Here
Liberty's most recent NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2006, when the No. 13 seed Lady Flames traveled to Chicago to face No. 4 seed DePaul in the opening round. Liberty had defeated the Blue Demons the previous season to reach the "Sweet 16," but DePaul was able to exact a measure of revenge in the March 18 contest.
The home team pulled out a 68-43 triumph, sparked by Khara Smith. She led all players in both points (18) and rebounds (13). Both active Frazee sisters reached double figures for Liberty. Moriah Frazee put in 11 points, while Molly Frazee added 10 markers. Sister Megan Frazee was sidelined due to a knee injury.
Lady Flame seniors Allyson Fasnacht, Egle Smigelskaite and Courtney Watkins are the last remaining players who were a part of Liberty's "Sweet 16" run in 2005. The Lady Flames, seeded No. 13, picked up the first two NCAA Tournament victories in program history, by defeating No. 4 seed Penn State and No. 5 DePaul.
Fasnacht played a key role in Liberty's 78-70 win over Penn State, scoring 18 points and committing no turnovers. Watkins stepped up two days later against DePaul, equaling a season high with seven points and helping the Lady Flames prevail, 88-79.
Successful Tournament Debuts
Three current Liberty players scored in double figures in their first career NCAA Tournament games. Allyson Fasnacht had 18 points against Penn State in 2005. The following year, sisters Moriah and Molly Frazee recorded 11 and 10 points, respectively, at DePaul.
2008 Tournament Debutantes
Four players on the current Lady Flames roster are set to make their NCAA Tournament debuts on Sunday. Junior Megan Frazee missed the DePaul tournament game two years ago with a knee injury. The team also carries a trio of freshmen--Kittery Maine, Rachel McLeod and Heather Smith.
Unbeaten Versus No. 5
Liberty has only faced a No. 5 seed once in the NCAA Tournament, and the Lady Flames won. Liberty defeated DePaul, 88-79, in the second round of the 2005 tournament, earning a spot in the "Sweet 16."
Highest Seed Ever
Liberty's No. 12 seed is the highest in program history. Four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006), the Lady Flames had received No. 13 seeds.
The seeding has only been exceeded once by a Big South team. Radford entered the 1995 NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed and lost to No. 6 seed Florida, 89-49.
Sunday's game will mark the Lady Flames' 13th NCAA Tournament contest. It will be the ninth time Liberty has faced an opponent on its home floor. The Lady Flames are seeking their first road win during March Madness, as Liberty currently owns an 0-8 record in such contests.
Conversely, the Lady Flames are 2-2 in neutral-site games. Three of Liberty's four neutral-site matchups came during their "Sweet 16" season of 2005.
Liberty will be facing Old Dominion for the second time in the NCAA Tournament. The Monarchs become the fourth team the Lady Flames have played on multiple occasions, joining Georgia (three times), DePaul (twice) and LSU (twice).
Liberty Versus the 2008 NCAA Tournament Field
The Lady Flames played a trio of NCAA Tournament teams this season, all on the road. Liberty went 2-1 versus tournament foes, claiming victories at Atlantic 10 Champion Xavier (61-56 on Nov. 25) and Atlantic Sun Champion East Tennessee State (64-60 on Jan. 8) and falling at ACC Champion North Carolina (67-88 on Dec. 30).
Where it All Got Started
Liberty is returning to the city where it played its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, on March 14, 1997. The Lady Flames met Old Dominion at the ODU Fieldhouse that day, and the Monarchs came away with a 102-52 triumph.
Close to Home
Interestingly, Liberty does not have as far to travel to reach its NCAA Tournament first and second-round site in Norfolk as the Lady Flames went to play in the Big South Championship in Asheville, N.C., last weekend. According to Mapquest.com, Liberty is located approximately 287 miles from Asheville and only 199 miles from Norfolk.
If the Lady Flames advance to the "Sweet 16," they will only need to travel 115 miles to reach the Greensboro Coliseum. Liberty is located closer to Greensboro than any of the other 15 teams in the regional.
Ten years ago, the Lady Flames entered the NCAA Tournament with an unblemished 28-0 record. Their reward? A match-up against eventual national champion Tennessee in the opening round, at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game marked the only time in NCAA Tournament history two unbeaten teams have met in the first round.
Possible Second-Round Opponents
No. 4 Seed Virginia Cavaliers (23-9, 10-4 ACC)
How They Got Here: At-large selection
Location: Charlottesville, Va.
Head Coach: Debbie Ryan
Career Record: 674-287 (30 seasons)
Record at Virginia: Same
Leading Scorer: Monica Wright, 18.2 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Aisha Mohammed, 9.1 rpg
Best NCAA Tournament Finish: National runner-up in 1991
Last NCAA Appearance/Result: 2005, Lost to Minnesota in second round
All-Time Series Record vs. Liberty: 6-2
No. 13 Seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (23-7, 15-1 Big West)
How They Got Here: Won Big West Conference title
Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Head Coach: Mark French
Career Record: 536-313 (29 seasons)
Record at UCSB: 438-199 (21 seasons)
Leading Scorer: Jessica Wilson, 12.8 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Jessica Wilson, 6.4 rpg
Best NCAA Tournament Finish: Sweet 16 in 2004
Last NCAA Appearance/Result: 2005, Lost to Notre Dame in first round
All-Time Series Record vs. Liberty: 0-0
(Note: Liberty and UCSB are two of nine teams ever to reach the "Sweet 16" when seeded No. 11 or lower. The Gauchos made the "Sweet 16" as a No. 11 seed in 2004, and the Lady Flames did so a year later as a No. 13 seed.)
Reversal of Fortune
During the semifinal round of the 2007 Big South Women's Basketball Championship, Radford eliminated Liberty when Kelli Darden banked in the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Last Sunday, at the same basket at the Justice Center, Megan Frazee tossed the game-winning bucket over Darden's outstretched arms, with 0.3 seconds left. Frazee's hoop gave Liberty a 66-65 win over Radford and the conference tournament title.
Closing with a Flourish
Liberty junior Megan Frazee has stepped up her production during recent weeks. She recorded five double-doubles in her last six games, averaging 21.8 ppg and 12.7 rpg during the time span. Her efforts have helped Liberty to a 5-1 record.
Equaling a Record
Liberty's thrilling 66-65 victory over Radford in last Sunday's Big South Championship game was the Lady Flames' 28th victory of the season. Liberty has equaled a program and Big South Conference mark for most victories in a season. The 1997-98 Lady Flames finished 28-1.
Marvelous in March
Liberty has gone 31-9 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, 22-1 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 4-0 during March 2008.
The Lady Flames are 39-34 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.
Competing with the Commonwealth
Liberty has played eight games against teams from the Commonwealth of Virginia during the 2007-08 season. The Lady Flames are 7-1 versus in-state foes, defeating Virginia Union (Nov. 30), James Madison (Dec. 4), Richmond (Jan. 5), George Mason (Jan. 15) and Radford (three times, Feb. 6, March 7 & March 16) and losing at Virginia Tech (Nov. 19).
The Lady Flames' ninth contest versus a Virginia foe will be played Sunday at Old Dominion.
Positive First Impression
Egle Smigelskaite made her first career start March 15, during the Big South Championship semifinal tilt against High Point. The senior thrived in her new role, posting her first double-double, with a career-high 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Strong in the Second Half
Megan Frazee enjoyed a stellar second half last Sunday, in the Big South Championship game versus Radford. She helped the Lady Flames erase an 11-point second-half deficit with 20 points and six boards after the intermission. None were bigger than her game-winning two points with 0.3 seconds left. The contest marked the latest in a number of outstanding second-half performances by Frazee this season.
Frazee totaled 21 points and five rebounds during the second half at Xavier on Nov. 25, had 20 points and 12 boards after the break at Radford on Feb. 6. The junior contributed 16 points and seven caroms during the final 20 minutes at High Point on Feb. 23 and had 15 points and 12 boards during the final period of Liberty's game at Winthrop on Feb. 27.
Her best career second half came as a sophomore, when Frazee notched 31 points and nine caroms after the intermission, helping Liberty win at Virginia, 75-71.
Receiving Some Recognition
Liberty received its first Top 25 vote of the season in the Dec. 10 AP Top 25 poll. The Lady Flames earned a season-high 32 votes in the Feb. 25 edition. Liberty is tied for the 37th-most votes in the current poll with 5.
In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, Liberty garnered its first vote on Dec. 18. This week, the Lady Flames earned their most votes of the season, 35, and landed just one place outside the Top 25.
Composure in Close Situations
The Lady Flames are 9-2 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 18.6 ppg and 9.5 rpg on the season, and is one of only eight players in the nation posting at least 18.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg, through March 16.
Frazee is one of only four such players competing in the NCAA Tournament. The other three postseason participants include DeWanna Bonner of Auburn, Crystal Kelly of Western Kentucky and Courtney Paris of Oklahoma.
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 126. Liberty's contest against Houston on Nov. 24 was Watkins' 100th-consecutive game played for the Lady Flames.
Watkins broke 2007 Liberty graduate Michelle Parker's program and Big South records for career games played, when the senior made her 126th appearance last Sunday in the Big South Championship game.
Watkins' classmate and backcourt mate, Allyson Fasnacht, has made 123 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 93-straight contests.
Down But Not Out
Liberty trailed Radford by 11 points during the second half of last Sunday's Big South Championship game, before rallying for a 66-65 victory. This is the second time the Lady Flames have erased an 11-point second-half deficit. Liberty also did so during a 61-56 victory over Xavier at the National City Xavier Invitational, on Nov. 25. Megan Frazee scored 20 second-half points versus Radford and had 21 tallies during the final 20 minutes against Xavier.
Senior Egle Smigelskaite posted her first career double-double on March 15 versus High Point, tallying 11 points and 10 rebounds. She is one of four current Lady Flames with a double-double to her credit. Rebecca Lightfoot and Moriah Frazee also recorded their first career double-doubles this season. Meanwhile, Megan Frazee has posted 36 career double-doubles, 14 of which have come this season. She leads all Big South performers in the category.
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 has tied the record, at 28-3.
Below are the winningest seasons in program history.
1T) 28-3 (2007-08)
1T) 28-1 (1997-98)
3T) 26-7 (2004-05)
3T) 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 102-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.
Big South Hardware
Liberty collected a significant amount of hardware, March 13 at the Big South Conference Awards Banquet. Megan Frazee became Liberty's seventh Big South Player of the Year recipient in the last 11 seasons. Carey Green became the first conference coach ever to win four Big South Coach of the Year distinctions. Allyson Fasnacht took home the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. For the seventh time in 12 years, Liberty had a pair of first-team all-conference picks, as Moriah Frazee joined Megan Frazee on the list.
Liberty has only played three Sunday games this season, but two of them have been especially memorable. The Lady Flames have claimed a pair of tournament championships on Sunday, winning the National City Xavier Invitational trophy on Nov. 25 and capturing the Big South Championship last Sunday.
Both contests were eerily similar. Liberty trailed by nine points at halftime in both outings and was down by as many as 11 markers during the second half. Megan Frazee had a huge role in both comebacks, notching 21 second-half points at Xavier and 20 second-half markers at Radford. She also scored the hoop which put Liberty ahead for good both times.
Clamping Down on Defense
The Lady Flames have held their last 50 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 15 of its 31 opponents to 35 percent or lower field goal efficiency this season, and the opposition is shooting just 33.6 percent versus the Lady Flames. Liberty ranks No. 2 nationally in the category.
Liberty took home the Big South Championship trophy last Sunday, after defeating Radford 66-65 on Megan Frazee's buzzer-beater. The tournament crown was the Lady Flames' third of the season. Several themes have appeared in all three tournaments.
First, all three title games were close. Liberty beat Xavier by five points to win the National City Xavier Invitational, UNLV by two points to win the Lady Rebel Christmas Classic and Radford by a single tally to win the Big South Championship.
Second, Megan Frazee has been named MVP of all three events.
Third, one of Frazee's sisters has joined her on the all-tournament team each time. Moriah Frazee did so at Xavier and UNLV, while Molly Frazee was honored by the Big South.
It is believed to be the first time in Liberty history the Lady Flames have won a trio of tournaments during a single campaign.