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Lady Flames' Winning Streak Reaches Five
Game Highlights (Video File)
Liberty closed the first half with a 15-0 run, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center, propelling the Lady Flames to a 64-54 victory over East Tennessee State. Four Lady Flames reached double figures and Liberty tied a season-high with 17 steals, contributing to the Lady Flames' fifth consecutive victory.
Liberty bumped its record above the .500 mark for the first time this season, as Megan Frazee's third double-double of the year helped the Lady Flames improve to 8-7. Meanwhile, Amber Mays spearheaded Liberty's defensive effort with a career-high eight steals, the most by a Lady Flame since Sharon Wilkerson's eight-steal effort versus High Point on Feb. 21, 2000. Mays' steal total ties for the fifth highest in program history.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames derailed East Tennessee State's four-game winning streak, leveling the Lady Buccaneers' ledger at 7-7. ETSU was limited to 33.3 percent (21-of-63) field goal shooting in its final game of a three-game road swing.
Liberty scored on its opening possession of the evening, when Avery Warley nailed a shot from the paint. However, the Lady Flames did not score again until Megan Frazee's layup, 4:45 later.
In the meantime, blue-clad East Tennessee State reeled off nine consecutive points. Back-to-back layups by Latisha Belcher finished off the run, putting the Lady Buccaneers in front by a 9-2 margin at the 14:32 mark.
Liberty responded with a 9-0 surge of its own, ending with Rachel Hammond's mid-range jumper at 10:06, which reclaimed the lead for the Lady Flames, 11-9.
The Lady Flames' advantage reached four points, 16-12, when Moriah Frazee canned a three-pointer, 8:16 before the intermission.
The game continued to swing back and forth, as an ensuing 12-4 surge by the visitors resulted in a 24-20 East Tennessee State lead. TaRonda Wiles tossed in the last five points of the Lady Buccaneers' extended run, including a triple from the corner at 5:01.
Those would be East Tennessee State's final points of the opening stanza, however, as Liberty closed the half on a 15-0 run. Five Liberty steals keyed the surge, which was highlighted by Mays' four points and two thefts. The Lady Flames owned a 35-24 halftime advantage, after Rachel McLeod closed the half's scoring with a layup at the 25-second mark.
For the half, the Lady Flames recorded eight steals and outrebounded the Lady Buccaneers by a wide, 25-15 margin. Liberty's hot shooting during the half's closing stages also pulled the team's field goal percentage up to 46.9 percent (15-of-32).
Megan Frazee paced the Liberty first-half attack, with team-high figures in both points (8) and rebounds (8), to go along with a trio of assists. Warley chipped in with seven points and five boards.
For ETSU, Wiles, returning to her home state of Virginia, led all players with nine first-half makers. Gwen Washington, also a Commonwealth native, added six boards.
A pair of triples early in the second half enabled East Tennessee State to trim its deficit to seven points, 37-30, with 16:27 remaining.
Liberty's lead fluctuated between six and 10 points until Tara Davis hit two free throws at the 10:30 mark, bringing her team to within 46-41.
The Lady Flames quickly responded with their second 9-0 burst of the evening, initiated by a three-pointer and putback by Megan Frazee. Mays later converted her eighth steal into a fast break layup at 8:21, capping the run with Liberty leading, 55-41.
Liberty's lead remained in double figures for the remainder of the contest, as the Lady Flames closed out their third straight win in their head-to-head series against the defending Atlantic Sun Conference titlists, 64-54.
The Lady Flames finished the contest with a 47.3 percent (26-of-55) mark from the field, representing their highest field goal percentage against a Division I opponent all season.
Leading the charge was Warley, who connected on all seven of her field goal tries for the home team, as part of a 15-point, eight-rebound evening. Warley, who leads the Big South in both field goal percentage and rebounds, was just one made field goal shy of the best-ever single-game shooting performance at the Vines Center. Last season, Moriah Frazee shot eight-for-eight in a Nov. 30, 2007 win over Virginia Union.
Megan Frazee's double-double consisted of 16 points and a season-high 13 boards, as the senior helped Liberty record a 45-31 edge on the glass. Frazee also distributed a season-best four assists and came up with two steals.
Mays was also active on the offensive end, tallying 10 points and a game-high five assists. Moriah Frazee was Liberty's fourth and final double-digit scorer, posting 10 points and seven caroms. Frazee is now just 19 points shy of becoming the 12th 1,000-point scorer in program history.
McLeod added a season-high seven points and two steals off coach Carey Green's bench.
Three players scored in double figures for the visitors, led by Wiles' 18 points and four steals. Belcher recorded 14 points, while Washington crafted a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds).
The Lady Flames will now take to the road for a two-game Big South Conference road swing, beginning with a Saturday trip to Clinton, S.C., where Liberty will face the Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-11, 0-2 Big South). Tip-off for the Lady Flames' first-ever contest at Templeton Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m.