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No. 13/14 Auburn Invades Vines Sunday at 3
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Liberty (1-5, 0-0 Big South) returns home on Sunday after playing its last five games away from the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will face a difficult challenge, as undefeated, nationally-ranked (No. 13/14) Auburn (9-0, 0-0 SEC) visits Lynchburg for the first time. Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m.
What to Watch
Liberty is attempting to snap a four-game losing skid and hopes to continue a string of success at the Vines Center, where the Lady Flames have won 42 of their last 46 contests. The Lady Flames will welcome a SEC opponent to the Vines Center for only the second time in program history, as Kentucky played at Liberty on Dec. 11, 1999. It will also be Liberty's first home game against a nationally-ranked foe since Nov. 26, 2002. In that contest, the Lady Flames upset No. 25 Virginia in overtime, 77-69, marking the first win over a Top 25 team in program history.
Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, celebrating his 15th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will once again be handling the courtside play-by-play duties for most road games. Josh Wood will serve as the primary commentator for home contests and will provide color analysis on the road.
Lady Flames On TV
For the sixth season in a row, the Flames Television Network (FTN) plans to broadcast all 12 home women's basketball games. FTN's regular announcing team will consist of Ray Jones on play-by-play and Jamie Hall on color.
The Auburn Tigers, picked to finish third in the SEC, enter Sunday's contest with an unscathed 9-0 record. Auburn, which is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll and No. 15 in the AP Top 25 Poll, has only been challenged once. The Tigers pulled out an 87-80 overtime win over nationally-ranked Ohio State on Nov. 23.
A powerful offensive squad, Auburn has scored over 90 points five times in its first nine games and is averaging 86.4 points per outing. Most recently, the Tigers set a school single-game scoring record on Friday versus Sam Houston, posting a 119-54 victory.
Preseason SEC Player of the Year DeWanna Bonner is leading the way for the Tigers in both points and rebounds, notching 19.8 points and 8.2 boards per outing. Alli Smalley, a 5-8 sophomore guard, backs her up with 14.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Whitney Boddie, a 5-9 senior point guard, is averaging 6.7 assists per contest. She came up with a triple-double in just 24 minutes of playing time against Sam Houston State, tallying 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
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 214-73 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.746) ranked 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.
Nell Fortner is 80-53 in her fifth season as Auburn's head coach and owns a 97-64 overall head coaching record, including one season at Purdue (1996-97). That season, Fortner was tabbed National Coach of the Year by Basketball Times. Fortner also coached the U.S. Women's Basketball Team to the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics and spent three seasons as head coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever.
Liberty-Auburn Series Notes
Sunday's contest will mark the first-ever meeting between Liberty and Auburn .
Liberty Versus the SEC
Liberty is 1-11 in 12 all-time meetings against current SEC members. The Lady Flames will play a pair of SEC opponents during 2008-09, Auburn and Vanderbilt. Eight of Liberty's 13 NCAA Tournament contests have been played against SEC foes.
The Lady Flames are 0-1 against Alabama, 0-1 against Florida, 0-3 against Georgia, 1-1 against Kentucky, 0-2 against LSU, 0-1 against South Carolina, 0-1 against Tennessee and 0-1 against Vanderbilt.
Liberty's only win versus a SEC opponent was an 80-76 triumph at Kentucky on Dec. 12, 1998. The Lady Flames erased an 18-point deficit to become the first Big South team ever to beat a SEC squad. Three Liberty players scored over 20 points, as Elena Kisseleva tallied 22 points, while twin sisters Sarah and Sharon Wilkerson had 21 points apiece.
Liberty's most recent SEC contest was a 73-50 setback at Florida on Dec. 29, 2005. Karolina Piotrkiewicz led Liberty with eight points and 12 boards, while freshman Megan Frazee added seven points and three assists before fouling out.
Attempting to Repeat History
No. 13/14 Auburn is the first Top 25 team to play at the Vines Center since Nov. 26, 2002. That day, No. 25 Virginia came to Lynchburg for a memorable contest in Lady Flames basketball history. Kristal Tharp paced Liberty with 20 points and eight rebounds, including a three-pointer from the corner at the end of regulation, sending the contest to overtime. The Lady Flames pulled out a 77-69 victory in the extra session, representing the program's first win over a Top 25 squad. Liberty has not played an overtime game at the Vines Center since that contest against the Cavaliers.
Liberty's most recent victories against Top 25 squads came on March 20 and 22, 2005, when the Lady Flames defeated No. 25 Penn State (78-70) and No. 17 DePaul (88-79) to reach the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament.
SEC at the Vines Center
Auburn is the second SEC team ever to play at the Vines Center. Kentucky visited Lynchburg on Dec. 11, 1999, in Carey Green's eighth game as Liberty's head coach. The game attracted a crowd of 3,317 to the Vines Center, and Lady Flame senior Sharon Wilkerson gave them something to cheer about, with a game-high 26 points. However, the Wildcats claimed a 69-57 win, scoing 46 points in the paint.
The Lady Flames rank third in the Big South with an average of 3.8 blocked shots per game, through the first six contests of the 2008-09 season. Leading the way are senior Moriah Frazee and redshirt freshman Avery Warley, with seven rejections apiece, for a 1.2 bpg average. They are tied for third in the conference.
Four of Warley's blocks came during Liberty's 45-44 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 21, marking a new career-high. Only one Lady Flame blocked four shots during a game last season, as Moriah Frazee turned away four Radford shot attempts on Feb. 6, 2008.
Freshman guard Brittany Campbell's career-high 11 points against Hartford paced all players, making her the first freshman to lead Liberty in scoring since Moriah Frazee had 11 points against DePaul in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament (March 18, 2006).
Campbell earned her first career start on Tuesday at James Madison, sinking three triples against the Dukes for nine total points. She was the first true freshman to start for the Lady Flames since the 2005-06 season, when Alexandria Bream, Megan Frazee, Moriah Frazee and Rebecca Lightfoot all started at least once.
Turning Up the Heat in the Furnace
The 2008-09 campaign is the 17th season the Liberty University women's basketball team has called the Vines Center its full-time home. Liberty's first-ever contest at the Vines Center was an 86-74 loss to East Tennessee State, on Dec. 7, 1990, but the "Furnace" has served as a favorable venue for the Lady Flames over the years. Liberty is 178-50 (.781) all-time at the Vines Center, including 13-0 last season. The Lady Flames, 0-1 at the Vines Center in 2008-09, have 12 home games scheduled this season. Liberty has not lost back-to-back home games since setbacks to Richmond and Virginia Tech on Nov. 22 and Dec. 7, 2004.
Start Me Up
Head coach Carey Green used only four different starting lineups in Liberty's 32 games last season. The most common starting five consisted of Allyson Fasnacht, Courtney Watkins, Megan Frazee, Rebecca Lightfoot and Moriah Frazee. The unit went 18-2 in their 20 games as a starting unit.
The Lady Flames' most successful grouping, which won all six games in 2007-08, featured Fasnacht, Watkins, Megan Frazee, Molly Frazee and Moriah Frazee.
This year, Liberty has used three different starting lineups already. Their most successful lineup--Rachel McLeod, Rachel Hammond, Megan Frazee, Moriah Frazee and Avery Warley--has gone 1-1.
After making only six three-pointers during the season's first five games, Liberty exploded for eight triples at James Madison on Tuesday. Starting guards Brittany Campbell and Rachel Hammond connected on a trio of three-pointers each, while senior forward Moriah Frazee hit two trifectas for the first time in her career. She only made one three-pointer during the entire 2007-08 campaign.
Anything You Can Do ...
Last season, Megan Frazee became the 11th player in program history to score 1,000 career points, eclipsing the magical mark at North Carolina on Dec. 30, 2007. This year, she could get some company from within her own family. Sister Moriah Frazee enters the Auburn contest with 890 points, leaving her 110 shy of 1,000.
If Frazee scores at her current season average of 11.0 points per contest, she is due to hit the milestone on Jan. 17, during the Lady Flames' road game at Presbyterian. Frazee is also climbing Liberty's career rebounding chart. She currently ranks 22nd in program history with 482 boards, leaving her three behind Trish Harris for the 21st spot.
The Frazees would not be the first sister duo to score over 1,000 points at Liberty. Sharon and Sarah Wilkerson, who graduated in 2000, totaled 1,733 and 1,331 points, respectively.
Senior guard Rachel Hammond is shining during her final season at Liberty. She entered the year with career averages of 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest, but is posting 7.8 points and 4.6 boards through the first six games of 2008-09. Hammond, who also ranks eighth in the Big South with 1.8 steals per outing, has set career highs in points twice in the last four games, scoring 15 points at Western Carolina (Nov. 22) and tossing in 17 markers at James Madison (Dec. 2).