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Lady Flames Seek First Wins of 2008-09 at WCU

November 19, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Amber Mays tallied nine points in her Liberty debut, last Friday versus VCU.

Amber Mays tallied nine points in her Liberty debut, last Friday versus VCU.

Game Day Central

Full Game Notes (PDF format)

Live WWMC Radio Broadcast

Live Stats for Liberty-UC Riverside game

Live Stats for Liberty-Western Carolina game


The Games

The Liberty Lady Flames (0-1, 0-0 Big South) will play a pair of Preseason WNIT consolation contests, Friday and Saturday at Western Carolina's Ramsey Regional Activity Center in Cullowhee, N.C. Liberty will meet UC Riverside (0-1, 0-0 Big West) for the first time in program history, Friday at 5 p.m., in a battle between the Big South and Big West preseason favorites. Friday's late game will feature the host team, Western Carolina, versus Lafayette. Friday's two winning teams will match up Saturday evening, as will Friday's two losing teams.

What's at Stake
Liberty is seeking its first-ever Preseason WNIT victory, as the Lady Flames are 0-3 in Preseason WNIT contests, after falling to VCU by a 59-57 margin on Nov. 14. The Lady Flames are also looking to avoid their first 0-2 start since the 2000-01 season.

Lady Flames On The Air
This weekend's games will be broadcast LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Josh Wood will handle the play-by-play.

Scouting UC Riverside
The UC Riverside Highlanders were picked to win the 2008-09 Big West Conference title, after going 14-16 and reaching the semifinals of the Big West Tournament a season ago. The Highlanders opened their season at No. 4/7 Oklahoma on Saturday, and the Sooners dealt UC Riverside an 88-57 setback.

The Highlanders are led by a pair of seniors, 6-1 forward/center Kemie Nkele and 5-10 guard Seyram Gbewonyo. Nkele captured the Big West Player of the Week honor after netting a career-high 31 points versus Oklahoma. Gbewonyo, who joined Nkele on the preseason all-conference roster, netted 13.2 ppg last season.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 213-69 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.755) ranks 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.

John Margaritis is entering his fifth year as UC Riverside's head coach and owns a
67-56 record with the Highlanders. He led UC Riverside to the NCAA Tournament in both 2006 and 2007. The 2007 Big West Coach of the Year is 177-136 in 11 total seasons as a collegiate head coach.

Liberty-UC Riverside Series Notes
Liberty and UC Riverside are meeting on the hardwood for the first time.

Liberty Versus the Big West Conference
Liberty has only played one game against a current member of the Big West Conference. The Lady Flames met Long Beach State in the opening round of the Louisville Classic, on Dec. 29, 1996. Liberty defeated the 49ers, 66-55, putting four players in double figures. Freshman Elena Kisseleva led the way for the Lady Flames with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while classmate Sharon Wilkerson chipped in 15 points.

Liberty in Neutral Site Tournament Games
The Lady Flames excelled in tournament games played on a neutral floor last season, going 5-0 in such contests.

Liberty picked up a pair of neutral wins at the Nov. 23-25 National City Xavier Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio, defeating McNeese State (92-52) and Houston (70-61).

A month later, the Lady Flames reached the title game of the Dec. 20-21 Lady Rebel Christmas Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., by beating Ball State (68-56).

Finally, Liberty won both of its Big South Women's Basketball Championship (March 15-16) contests on a neutral hardwood, at UNC Asheville's Justice Center. The Lady Flames defeated High Point in the semifinals, 80-43. Liberty then edged Radford in the championship game, 66-65, on Megan Frazee's game-winning shot with just 0.3 seconds remaining.

Scouting Lafayette
The Lafayette Leopards of the Patriot League return 11 letterwinners from last year's 14-16 squad, which doubled its win total from the previous season. Lafayette opened its 2008-09 campaign with an 85-47 setback at Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 15. The Leopards, who shot 58.3 percent from the field but committed 38 turnovers, were led by 5-11 senior forward Emily Garner. She paced the Leopards in both points (13) and rebounds (8).

Cristin Zavocki, a 5-7 senior guard, is the team's top returning scorer, averaging 9.7 ppg in 2007-08. LaKeisha Wright, a 5-10 sophomore guard/forward, was tabbed to the Patriot League All-Freshman team. She tossed in 10 points against Middle Tennessee State.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 213-69 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.755) ranks 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.

Tammy Smith is 41-160 as she starts her eighth season as Lafayette's head coach. She is 154-228 in 15 total seasons of collegiate head coaching, which includes seven years at Division III Muhlenberg.

Liberty-Lafayette Series Notes
Liberty and Lafayette could meet on the hardwood for the first time.

Liberty Versus the Patriot League
Liberty has only faced two current Patriot League members in women's basketball, and the Lady Flames own a 5-8 record against Patriot League foes. Liberty is 4-4 versus American and 1-4 against Navy. The Lady Flames have won four consecutive games against Patriot League opposition, all of which have come against American.

Megan Frazee tallied a team-high 13 points in Liberty's most recent Patriot League matchup, a 73-42 victory over American at the Vines Center on Jan. 2, 2007. Liberty's most recent overtime win also came against American, a 76-72, double overtime triumph at American on Jan. 6, 2004.

Liberty/Lafayette Connections
Liberty and Lafayette, which have never played each other in women's basketball, could potentially square off twice in the next month and a half. Both teams are entered in the Hokie Hardwood Classic, scheduled for Dec. 29-30 in Blacksburg, Va. Liberty faces North Carolina A&T in the opening game on Dec. 29, followed by a Virginia Tech-Lafayette contest. The two winners will play one another on Dec. 30, as will the two losing teams.

Liberty and Lafayette also squared off on the gridiron this fall. The Leopards visited Williams Stadium on Oct. 18 and became a rare road team to come away from Liberty with a win. Lafayette broke the Flames' 11-game home winning streak with a 35-21 victory.

Scouting Western Carolina
The Western Carolina Catamounts were picked to finish second behind Chattanooga in the Southern Conference. Last season, the Catamounts went 25-9 and made their second consecutive Postseason WNIT appearance. They opened the 2008-09 season with a 90-56 setback at No. 4/6 North Carolina on Nov. 14. Brooke Johnson, a 6-4 senior center, led the Catamounts with 13 points versus the Tar Heels.
Johnson and fellow senior Lauren Powell, a 6-0 guard, were both named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference team. Johnson is the top returning scorer from last season, as she averaged 11.9 ppg during the 2007-08 campaign. Emily Clarke, a 5-10 sophomore guard/forward, was included on the 2008 Southern Conference All-Freshman roster.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 213-69 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.755) ranks 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.

Kellie Harper is 76-54, starting her fifth season as Western Carolina's head coach. She has led the Catamounts to three postseason appearances in the last four seasons, including one trip to the NCAA Tournament and two ventures to the WNIT. Harper has never coached against Liberty, but played against the Lady Flames during her All-American career at Tennessee. She scored 13 points in the Lady Vols' 102-58 victory over Liberty in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Liberty-Western Carolina Series Notes
Western Carolina owns a 7-3 edge in its head-to-head series with Liberty, but the two teams have not faced each other since Dec. 16, 1995. The Catamounts won that contest by an 88-60 count at the South Alabama Tournament. Julie Bintz paced the Lady Flames with 14 points and four assists.

Liberty has only managed one win in four games played in Cullowhee. The Lady Flames defeated the Catamounts, 77-72, on Feb. 9, 1989, during Liberty's first Division I season. Kristi Mercer (25 points) and Saundra Bridges (21 points) both reached the 20-point plateu for the victors.

Liberty Versus the Southern Conference
Liberty has played 57 games against the current members of the Southern Conference, going 27-30. The Lady Flames are 0-2 versus Appalachian State, 2-1 versus College of Charleston, 2-0 versus Davidson, 11-3 versus Elon, 0-1 versus Furman, 0-2 versus Georgia Southern, 1-0 versus Samford, 5-14 versus UNC Greensboro, 3-7 versus Western Carolina and 3-0 versus Wofford.
The Lady Flames played one Southern Conference team last season, opening the year at UNC Greensboro on Nov. 13, 2007. The Lady Flames claimed a 62-44 victory on the Spartans' home court.

Liberty in the Preseason WNIT
The Lady Flames are making their third appearance in the Preseason WNIT. Liberty is 0-3 all-time in the tournament, losing opening-round contests on the road in 1999 and 2003 and dropping a first-round tilt to VCU last Friday.

1999 Preseason WNIT: Liberty played at Commonwealth rival Virginia Tech in the first round of the 1999 Preseason WNIT, on Nov. 15, 1999. The Lady Flames' Sarah Wilkerson tallied 13 points and three assists, while Elena Kisseleva added 12 points and seven caroms in Carey Green's debut as Liberty head coach. However, Sarah Hicks propelled the Hokies to a 60-45 victory with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds.

2003 Preseason WNIT: Daina Staugaitine finished with 15 points, six assists and six rebounds, and the Lady Flames shot a solid 47.1 percent from the field, on Nov. 14, 2003. However, host Cincinnati used a 28-point, seven-rebound outing from Debbie Merrill to win the first-round Preseason WNIT tilt, 73-62.
California Dreamin'
Friday's game will be only Liberty's third contest against a California university in program history. The Lady Flames are 1-1 all-time versus California squads.

Liberty defeated Long Beach State, 66-55, on Dec. 29, 1996 at the Louisville Classic. The Lady Flames then fell to UCLA in their 2001-02 season opener, 62-55. The contest was played on Nov. 16, 2001 at the Michigan State Spartan Chevrolet Classic.

The Lady Flames have one California native on their 2008-09 roster. Junior point guard Amber Mays attended Pasadena High School in Pasadena, Calif.

Making a Point
Sophomore Rachel McLeod enjoyed a solid performance in her first career start at the point guard spot, last Friday versus VCU. She nabbed a career-high eight rebounds and dished out six assists, while committing only one turnover.

McLeod became the first Liberty point guard to record at least eight rebounds and six assists in a single contest since Daina Staugaitiene. She posted 13 boards and six assists during Liberty's Big South Championship title game win over Birmingham-Southern on March 13, 2004.

Scoreboard Operator, Beware
Friday's game matches up the top two individual scorers in the eight first-round Preseason WNIT contests, Megan Frazee and UC Riverside's Kemie Nkele. Frazee tossed in 28 points versus VCU, but Nkele did her three better. The Highlander senior recorded a career-best 31 points at No. 4/7 Oklahoma. Both performances came in losing efforts, however.

Double the Fun
Megan Frazee's 28 points and 11 rebounds versus VCU last Friday gave the senior 37 career double-doubles, ranking second on the Lady Flames' career list during the NCAA Division I era. Katie Feenstra, now of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, owns the program Division I record with 49 double-doubles.

Frazee's fellow seniors, Moriah Frazee and Rebecca Lightfoot, have crafted one double-double apiece during their time at Liberty.

An Outstanding Opener
Megan Frazee tallied a game-high 28 points against VCU last Friday, marking the most points she has ever scored in a season-opening game. It was also the most points tallied by a Lady Flame in a season opener since Nov. 23, 1996, when freshman Elena Kisseleva dropped 30 markers on Bluefield in an 89-45 Liberty victory at the Vines Center.

A Lucky 13
As a result of Megan Frazee's big performance versus VCU, which also included a game-high 11 rebounds, she was tabbed this season's inaugural Big South Women's Basketball Player of the Week. It is the 13th time in Frazee's career she has captured the conference's weekly honor.

Only former Liberty standout Katie Feenstra has collected more Big South Women's Basketball Player of the Week awards in conference history. Feenstra finished her Liberty career with 15 weekly plaques.

Recipe for Success
Many of Liberty's 28 wins during the 2007-08 seasons exhibited similar characteristics. The Lady Flames were unbeaten when leading with five minutes remaining in the contest (26-0), shooting more free throws than their opponent (24-0), winning the opening tip-off (19-0), wearing white uniforms (17-0), playing on either Friday or Saturday (17-0) and scoring 71 or more points (13-0).

Three of those trends were reversed in Liberty's season opener against VCU, as the Lady Flames lost despite shooting more free throws than the Rams (24-17), wearing white uniforms and playing on Friday.