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VCU Nips Liberty in Preseason WNIT Opener

November 14, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Megan Frazee tallied 28 points and 11 rebounds during Friday evening's two-point loss to VCU.

Megan Frazee tallied 28 points and 11 rebounds during Friday evening's two-point loss to VCU.

The Liberty women's basketball team battled back from a 21-4 deficit to take a pair of second-half leads, Friday evening at the Vines Center. However, visiting VCU edged the Lady Flames, 59-57, in a first-round Preseason WNIT contest, as Radoslava Bachvarova drained three free throws with just 2.1 seconds left.

The 0-1 Lady Flames saw their 13-game home winning streak halted despite a 28-point, 11-rebound outing by senior Megan Frazee. She led all players in both categories, while playing all 40 minutes. VCU, which opens the 2008-09 season at 1-0, picked up its first win over the Lady Flames since Dec. 16, 2000.

The Rams advance to play No. 4/6 North Carolina in the Preseason WNIT quarterfinals on Sunday. Meanwhile, Liberty will be placed into one of the Preseason WNIT's two four-team consolation quads, to be played next weekend. The Lady Flames' destination and next opponent will be announced later this weekend.

VCU tallied the evening's first 12 points, before Megan Frazee canned a one-handed floater from six feet, at the 14:10 mark of the opening half. Fellow senior Rachel Hammond sank a bank shot on the Lady Flames' next possession, pulling Liberty to within 12-4.

But that was as close as Liberty got for much of the opening half. VCU notched nine straight points, five of them courtesy of Jennifer Lane, bolstering their advantage to 21-4 at 10:48.

The Lady Flames gradually chipped away at the deficit, sparked by their defense. Liberty limited VCU to one field goal over the final 4:20 of the opening stanza, running off an 11-2 surge in the meantime. Megan Frazee scored the half's last four points, closing the gap to 31-27 at the intermission.

Frazee's play was the story of the first half, as she nearly singlehandedly kept Liberty close at times. The senior made seven of eight field goals and all four of her free throws for 18 opening-half tallies. She also paced all players with seven rebounds. Junior point guard Amber Mays also made a positive first impression in her Liberty debut. She came off head coach Carey Green's bench for six points and a pair of steals.

Kita Waller headlined VCU's balanced attack with nine first-half markers, while three teammates chipped in with five points apiece.

After a slow start, the Lady Flames ended up outshooting the Rams from the field during the first half, 45 percent (9-for-20) to 44 percent (11-for-25). Liberty also won the rebounding battle, 16 to 10, and made nine of their 10 foul shots. However, VCU was able to take a four-point lead into the break, due in large part to a 21-10 edge in points off turnovers.

Moriah Frazee, held scoreless in the first half, opened the second half scoring with a pair of made free throws, just 32 seconds in. Her charity tosses trimmed VCU's lead to 31-29.

The Rams' advantage jumped back up to six, before Liberty knotted things up with a 6-0 burst. Megan Frazee's layup with 16:01 remaining leveled the score at 35-35.

Frazee then gave Liberty its initial lead of the contest, draining a three-pointer from the right wing at the 11:02 mark. Her long-distance connection was the Lady Flames' first and only one of the contest.

Liberty's advantage was short-lived, as La'Tavia Rorie drained a jumper from close range on VCU's next possession. The Lady Flames' next lead did not come until 4:30 remained on the game clock, when Megan Frazee found Avery Warley for an open layup.

Warley's basket was part of a 7-0 Liberty burst, during a scoreless drought of more than five minutes by the visitors. Megan Frazee's reverse layup at 3:11 capped the run, increasing the Lady Flames' lead to 54-51.

VCU came back to tie things up again, 54-54, when Quanitra Hollingsworth split a pair of free throws with 2:18 remaining, setting the stage for a frenetic final minute of play.

Mays put Liberty on top, 56-54, with a driving layup at the 44-second mark, before Hollingsworth answered with a hoop from in close, 10 seconds later.

Warley went to the free throw line on the Lady Flames' ensuing possession, splitting a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining. Her connection briefly put Liberty in front, 57-56, before Bachvarova's clutch charity tosses for the Rams. Liberty was unable to attempt a shot in the remaining 1.8 seconds, and VCU came away with a hard-fought, 59-57 road triumph.

For the game, Liberty shot a higher field goal percentage than the visiting Rams, 44.2 percent (19-for-43) to 41.7 percent (20-for-48). The Lady Flames also won the rebounding battle, 36-23, including 20-13 in the second half.

Mays backed up Frazee's 37th career double-double with nine points and three assists, while fellow floor general Rachel McLeod totaled a career-high eight boards and a game-high six assists.

Moriah Frazee came up with eight points in her return to action after ACL surgery. Meanwhile, Warley contributed seven points and four boards in her first collegiate appearance.

Bachvarova was one of three VCU players to hit double figures. She hit both of her three-pointers as part of a 13-point evening. Her effort helped the Rams shoot 50 percent (6-of-12) from beyond the three-point arc.

Waller also finished with 13 points for VCU, while Hollingsworth ended with 10 points and a team-high eight caroms.