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Lady Flames Take Over First Place in BSC
The Lady Flames improve to 10-7 overall and a perfect 4-0 in Big South play, after their seventh consecutive victory and ninth triumph in their last 10 outings. Liberty's victory, its 14th January win in a row, was aided by 24 offensive rebounds and 34 points in the paint.
Meanwhile, UNC Asheville saw its season-long three-game winning streak snapped. The Bulldogs are 7-12 overall and 4-2 in conference games. Homestanding Asheville shot only 34.0 percent (18-of-53) from the field and committed 20 turnovers, leading to 29 of Liberty's points.
Megan Frazee scored eight points during Liberty's 11-4 run to open the contest. Her old-fashioned three-point play with 15:18 remaining in the stanza closed out the surge.
After Lindsey Thompson pulled the home team within four points, 11-7, with a long three-pointer from the right wing, the red-clad Lady Flames scored 13 straight markers to open up their first double-digit advantage of the evening. Liberty made all five of its field goal attempts during the prolonged surge, which was capped off at the 10:43 mark with Rachel Hammond's three-point play. Hammond's trio of points bolstered Liberty's advantage to 24-7.
The Lady Flames did not score again for four and a half minutes, enabling the Bulldogs to cut their deficit to 24-12, 6:52 before the intermission.
Ana Baker's steal and ensuing layup pulled Asheville to within 11 points, 28-17, at the 5:10 mark.
Liberty quickly answered with a 14-0 run, highlighted by five Rebecca Lightfoot points. The Lady Flames' lead reached 42-17 with 44 seconds remaining, after a pair of foul shots by Amber Mays.
Liberty took a 42-19 advantage into the locker room, after its highest-scoring first half of the season. The Lady Flames shot 47.1 percent (16-of-34) before the half, including 50.0 percent (5-of-10) from behind the three-point arc. Liberty also took advantage of an aggressive defense, forcing 14 turnovers and converting the Asheville miscues into 23 points.
Megan Frazee paced all players in both points (15) and rebounds (7) during the first half for the Lady Flames. Her efforts on the glass helped Liberty achieve a 22-15 rebounding edge.
Both of the Lady Flames' starting guards filled the stat sheet during the opening 20 minutes of play. Mays posted five points, five assists and four steals, while Hammond added eight points, four helpers and a pair of steals.
Chioma Okoli's five points paced UNC Asheville offensively in the first half, but the Bulldogs sank only 29.2 percent (7-of-24) of their field goals.
Kendall Shepard's baseline floater capped a 5-0 UNC Asheville spurt early in the second half, making the score 46-25, Liberty, with 15:43 showing on the second-half clock.
Shepard ended up scoring the Bulldogs' next five points as well, including a three-point play at 14:30 that trimmed the Lady Flames' edge to 50-30.
Liberty countered with a 9-0 run over the next five minutes, boosting their lead to 29 points (59-30) when Lightfoot canned both of her free throws with 10:27 to play.
The Lady Flames maintained at least a 23-point lead for the remainder of the contest, and the advantage ballooned to as many as 31 points, 75-44, when Rachel McLeod drilled a deep triple at 1:31.
Liberty's final margin of victory was 75-48, as the Lady Flames defeated UNC Asheville at the Justice Center for the 12th consecutive season. Liberty's 75 points represented the team's highest scoring output of the year versus a Division I foe.
The Lady Flames connected on seven triples for the second straight contest and recorded 20 assists on their 26 made baskets.
Megan Frazee's double-double was her fourth of the season and her fifth in seven career games at the Justice Center. She was one of three Lady Flames to score in double figures on Monday.
Avery Warley chipped in with 10 points, eight caroms and a pair of blocked shots. The redshirt freshman has now turned away 26 shots this season, the most by a Lady Flame since Katie Feenstra's 80 blocked shots in 2004-05.
Mays ended up with 13 points, seven assists and four of her squad's eight steals. Seniors Hammond and Lightfoot added eight points each, with Lightfoot's scoring output establishing a new season high.
Moriah Frazee's three points boost her career scoring total to 995, moving the senior post player to within five tallies of the 1,000-point milestone.
Shepard totaled 13 of her team-high 17 points after the intermission for UNC Asheville. Ana Baker added 11 points and a quartet of assists.
Liberty will now return to Lynchburg to begin a four-game homestand at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames' longest homestand of the season opens Saturday versus Charleston Southern (7-9, 1-3 BSC). Tip-off at the Vines Center is scheduled for 2 p.m., and the Lady Flames' contest will be followed at 7 p.m. by a Liberty men's basketball game against Radford.
UNC Asheville will not play again until Jan. 26, when the Bulldogs travel to High Point. The game between the Bulldogs and Panthers is slated to tip off at 7 p.m., at the Millis Center.