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Lady Flames Fall at Western Carolina, 73-53
Liberty, playing without injured Big South Preseason Player of the Year Megan Frazee, drops to 1-2 on the young season. Rachel Hammond stepped up with a career-high 15 points in her classmate's absence, with 10 of her tallies coming in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Catamounts, picked to finish second in the Southern Conference, are now 2-1. Emily Clarke paced the home team with a career high-tying 18 points, including three of Western Carolina's seven triples.
Both teams got off to a slow start at the offensive end. When the buzzer sounded for the contest's first media timeout at 14:42, the homestanding Catamounts owned a 5-2 advantage. Liberty did not get on the scoreboard until the 15:30 mark, when Hammond sank a layup.
Western Carolina's edge bulged to six points, 16-10, after Brooke Johnson's layup 9:54 before the half. The Lady Flames then knotted the game at 16-16 with six consecutive markers. A Brittany Campbell three-pointer from the right corner, marking her first collegiate points, evened the score at 7:58.
However, Liberty only made one more basket during the remainder of the opening stanza, Moriah Frazee's first triple of the season. The Catamounts closed the half on an 8-0 surge, taking a 30-19 advantage into the locker room.
Western Carolina held Liberty's offense in check during the first 20 minutes, limiting the Lady Flames to 33.3 percent (7-of-21) field goal shooting and forcing 10 Liberty turnovers.
The Catamounts only shot 38.7 percent (12-of-31) themselves in the first stanza, but got scoring contributions from seven different players. Kristen Feemster came off coach Kellie Harper's bench for a team-high seven points.
Moriah Frazee added seven opening-half points of her own for the Lady Flames, to go along with three rebounds.
The Catamounts notched the first eight tallies of the second half, including a pair of three-pointers, extending their overall run to 16-0 and their lead to 38-19.
Liberty trimmed its deficit to 13 points, 42-29, with 14:15 remaining. Hammond contributed four points to the Lady Flames' 6-0 run.
The red-clad Lady Flames got to within 47-37 at 10:11, after another 6-0 surge, capped by consecutive Avery Warley layups.
Liberty was unable to shave the lead to single digits, though, and the hot-shooting Catamounts pulled away during the final 10 minutes. Western Carolina's lead got as large as 21 points, as the Catamounts connected on 51.7 percent (15-of-29) of their second-half field goal tries. The WCU shooting success featured five three-pointers after the intermission, helping the Catamounts wrap up a 73-53 triumph.
Moriah Frazee backed Hammond's performance with a season-best 13 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Flames. She climbed up a pair of Liberty career statistical lists, as the senior now ranks 13th in Lady Flames history with 850 points and sits 25th with 458 boards.
Junior Amber Mays added eight points and four caroms in her first appearance in the Liberty starting lineup, while Kittery Maine rejected three Western Carolina shots.
Western Carolina's Heather Swayne joined Clarke in double figures with 10 points, while Johnson contributed nine points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Liberty will return to action Friday at 3 p.m., with its first-ever contest against Hartford. The game will be played at George Washington's Charles E. Smith Athletic Center in Washington, D.C., as the opening contest of the GW Thanksgiving Classic. Hartford of the America East Conference is unbeaten and just upset No. 5/6 Duke last night, 53-51, in the DePaul Classic.