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Liberty Holds Off Feisty Presbyterian Squad

January 17, 2009
|  Clinton, S.C.
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Rachel Hammond hit a trio of three-pointers during the second half of Liberty's 59-49 victory at Presbyterian, Saturday evening.

Rachel Hammond hit a trio of three-pointers during the second half of Liberty's 59-49 victory at Presbyterian, Saturday evening.

An undersized, undermanned Presbyterian team battled Liberty closely throughout much of Saturday evening's contest at Templeton Arena. However, the Lady Flames opened the second half with a 15-2 run, and went on to claim their sixth-straight victory, 59-49.

Liberty, now 9-7 overall, remains one of two unbeaten teams in Big South Conference action at 3-0. High Point, idle on Saturday, is 4-0 in conference play. Megan Frazee paced the Lady Flames' balanced scoring attack with 14 points and shared the team lead with five boards.

Presbyterian, which dressed only eight players, all of whom stand under 6-0 tall, dropped its ninth contest in a row. Even though Amanda Mills tossed in 16 of her game-high 21 points after halftime, the Blue Hose fall to 2-12 overall. Presbyterian is still seeking its first-ever Big South win, as its Big South record stands at 0-3.

Presbyterian did not make its first field goal of the game until 11:37 showed on the first-half clock. The contest-opening drought by the Blue Hose enabled Liberty to build an early 11-4 advantage.

Liberty's lead reached double digits for the first time at the 10:43 mark, when Moriah Frazee drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 16-6, Liberty. Frazee's triple closed out an 11-2 Lady Flame run.

Liberty did not score again for nearly six minutes, but Presbyterian was only able to trim six points off its deficit during the interim, narrowing the gap to 16-12 on a pair of treys.

The Lady Flames quickly doubled its lead to 20-12 at 3:27, on a left-handed hook shot by Kylee Beecher and a second-chance bank shot by Rebecca Lightfoot.

Homestanding Presbyterian then closed the opening half on a 7-0 surge. A Katlin Moore three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining wrapped up the run, sending the Blue Hose into the locker room with just a one-point deficit, 20-19.

Liberty owned a sizable first-half rebounding edge, 20-6, and shot 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from the field, as compared with 27.8 percent (5-of-18) for its host. However, the Lady Flames committed 13 first-half turnovers and Presbyterian stayed close by sinking six of its seven charity tosses.

Moriah Frazee paced the Lady Flames with seven first-half markers, while sister Megan Frazee tallied four points, five boards and two assists before the break.

Moore led all players by totaling 10 points in the opening half, including a pair of three-pointers. Chelsea Wright grabbed half (three) of her team's rebounds during the first 20 minutes of action.

Taking advantage of a loose zone defense by Presbyterian, Liberty connected on three triples during a 15-2 burst to open the second half, with Rachel Hammond hitting two of the three-pointers. Amber Mays' steal and resulting fast break layup at 14:42 finished off the half-opening run, giving Liberty a 35-21 edge.

Mills tossed in seven points during a 10-2 run by the Blue Hose, which ended with a Moore free throw at the 9:53 mark. Moore's point brought her team to within 39-33.

A quick 5-0 Liberty spurt, capped by Megan Frazee's second three-pointer, rebuilt a double-digit lead for the Lady Flames, 46-35, with 7:21 left.

Presbyterian closed its deficit to single digits once again, when Mills connected on a triple with 5:01 remaining. Her long-distance connection made the score 48-41, Liberty.

Hammond answered Mills' trey with one of her own on the Lady Flames' next possession, initiating a 7-0 Liberty surge. Beecher's putback at 3:10 lifted the Lady Flames' edge to 55-41, and the Blue Hose got no closer than eight points for the remainder of the contest.

Rachel McLeod hit all four of her foul shots in the final 36 seconds, helping Liberty wrap up a 59-49 victory in its first-ever visit to Templeton Arena. The decision helped Lady Flames head coach Carey Green improve to 29-2 all-time in games played within the state of South Carolina.

Although the final score was relatively tight, Liberty posted some solid statistics for the game. The Lady Flames finished with 46.7 percent (21-of-45) field goal accuracy, including seven three-pointers. Liberty also shot 90.9 percent from the charity stripe, misfiring on only one of its 11 attempts.

Meanwhile, Presbyterian connected on only 12 of 39 field goals, hitting at a 30.8 percent rate. Liberty has now held all six opponents to below 40 percent from the field during its current winning streak.

Moriah Frazee joined her sister in double figures with 11 markers, leaving the senior just eight points shy of 1,000 for her career. Starting guards Hammond and Mays chipped in nine points apiece. All nine of Hammond's points came on a trio of second-half three pointers, and Mays added a game-high four assists and a pair of steals.

Moore, who played all 40 minutes, also reached double figures for Presbyterian. She finished with 16 points and three assists. The Blue Hose used their short bench sparingly, as coach Ronny Fisher's reserves played a total of 17 minutes and scored only two points.

Liberty will conclude its two-game road swing Monday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames visit UNC Asheville (7-11, 4-1 BSC) for a battle between two of the conference's top teams. Liberty will be returning to the Justice Center for the first time since its dramatic, last-second victory over Radford in the 2008 Big South Championship title game.

Meanwhile, Presbyterian will remain at home for a Monday evening conference matchup against Radford (3-12, 2-2 BSC). The Blue Hose will seek their initial Big South triumph, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. at Templeton Arena.