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Liberty Welcomes Radford for Homestand Finale
Game Day Central
The Liberty Lady Flames (13-7, 7-0 Big South) wrap up their longest homestand of the season, Monday at 7 p.m., when they host Commonwealth foe Radford (6-12, 5-2 Big South). The contest will conclude the first round of Big South play for the conference's two Virginia squads.
What to Watch
Monday's game will be a matchup of the Big South's two hottest teams. Liberty enters the contest on a 10-game winning streak, while Radford has won three games in a row.
The Lady Flames and the Highlanders will be squaring off for the 49th time, with Liberty owning a small, 25-23 advantage in the head-to-head series.
Both teams saw guards post career-high scoring efforts in their last outings. Liberty senior Rachel Hammond exploded for 25 points against High Point on Saturday. Meanwhile, Radford sophomore Taleia Moton poured in 28 markers versus Charleston Southern on Jan. 26.
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 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.
Radford saw two of the best post players in program history--Kelli Darden and Corrie Fertitta--graduate after last season. The new-look Highlanders got off to a slow start under first-year head coach Tajama Ngongba, opening the year with a 1-10 record.
The Highlanders have enjoyed considerably more success in Big South Conference play, as Radford currently sits in third place, just one-half game behind High Point for second. Leading the way has been the team's shortest player, 5-4 sophomore guard Taleia Moton. She leads the team and ranks second in the conference with 14.4 ppg. Kymesha Alston, a 6-0 redshirt junior, has increased her production in the post. She is tallying a team-high 7.6 rpg, ranking third in the Big South.
Radford is only 2-10 playing away from home this season, but the Highlanders' pair of victories have come in their last three road contests--versus Winthrop and Presbyterian.
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 226-75 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.751) ranked 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset. Green is 18-3 all-time against Radford.
Tajama Ngongba is 6-12 in her first season as a collegiate head coach. An All-American player at George Washington, Ngongba served four seasons as an asisstant coach at her alma mater, prior to taking the reins at Radford during the off-season. She also spent time as an assistant at Commonwealth programs VCU and Richmond.
Liberty-Radford Series Notes
Liberty owns a slim, 25-23 lead all-time against Radford, its most common opponent in program history. The Highlanders won 20 of their first 21 meetings with the Lady Flames, before Liberty went 21-1 in the teams' next 22 encounters.
The series has become more competitive in recent years, with Liberty going 3-2 in its last five matchups with Radford.
Liberty went 3-0 against its in-state foe last season, including one of the most memorable matchups in series history. The Lady Flames and Highlanders faced off in the Big South Championship title game for the first time, March 16, 2008 at UNC Asheville's Justice Center. Liberty erased an 11-point second-half deficit to claim a dramatic, 66-65 victory. Megan Frazee recorded 26 points and 12 rebounds, but her most important play came with 0.3 seconds remaining, when the junior hit the game-winning shot from short range.
Frazee has terrorized the Highlanders throughout her career. In six meetings with Radford, Megan Frazee is averaging 23.7 ppg and 13.2 rpg, while notching five double-doubles.
Radford has struggled at the Vines Center, losing in each of its last 14 trips to Lynchburg. The Highlanders' most recent victory at Liberty came on Feb. 3, 1996, by a 73-54 count.
Fabulous in February
Liberty has won 85 of its last 90 games played during the month of February, dating back to the 1997 Big South Championship. The only teams to defeat the Lady Flames in February since then are High Point (three times), UNC Asheville (once) and Winthrop (once).
Liberty owns a 166-121 all-time mark during the year's second month, including a 66-5 record under Carey Green. The Lady Flames went 6-1 in February last season and have six February contests on the schedule in 2008-09.
New Year's Resolution
Liberty owns a 155-105 all-time record in January contests, after completing its second consecutive unbeaten January (8-0). Head coach Carey Green has gone 71-8 with the Lady Flames during the year's opening month.
The Lady Flames have won 37 straight home games during the month of January. Liberty has not lost a January contest at the Vines Center since Jan. 13, 2000, when Elon dealt the Lady Flames a 77-72 setback.
Liberty has won 17 consecutive January contests overall, since a 64-62 overtime loss at High Point on Jan. 20, 2007.
Recipe For Success
Liberty has won 10 consecutive games, and the following are a few keys the Lady Flames' success.
-- All 10 opponents have been held below 60 points.
-- All 10 opponents have shot below 40 percent from the field.
-- Liberty has outrebounded nine of 10 opponents by 11 boards or more.
-- Megan Frazee has averaged 18.0 ppg and 9.5 rpg, since returning from an ankle injury which sidelined her for eight games.
-- Liberty is shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range and averaging 4.6 triples per contest, as compared with 27.5 percent and 2.8 triples per game before the streak.
-- The Lady Flames' starting backcourt of Amber Mays and Rachel Hammond has posted 64 assists, 43 steals and only 40 turnovers.
Liberty has begun to find its outside shooting touch recently, sinking 33 triples and shooting 44 percent from beyond the three-point arc in the last five games.
Leading the way are two of the most prolific three-point shooters in program history. Megan Frazee, ranked ninth on Liberty's career list with 88 triples, has hit 13 of her last 24 from downtown (54.2 percent).
Rachel Hammond, whose 67 career three-pointers tie her for 14th on the list, has connected on 15 of her last 23 three-point attempts (65.2 percent). Hammond made a career-best nine consecutive triples without a miss, between Jan. 24-31.
Hammond made five treys against High Point on Saturday, marking the first time a Lady Flame has connected on five three-pointers in a single game since Dec. 15, 2001, when Daina Staugaitiene did so at Hampton.
Competing with the Commonwealth
Liberty is 2-2 against in-state opponents this season, owning victories over Virginia Tech and Saint Paul's and losses against VCU and James Madison.
Coach Green Versus the Big South
Liberty head coach Carey Green has enjoyed considerable success versus the Big South during his first nine seasons with the Lady Flames. His teams are 143-13 against Big South opponents, including 119-12 in the regular season and 24-1 in the Big South Championship.
Green has never lost to his alma mater, Coastal Carolina (22-0), or Charleston Southern (21-0) during his time at Liberty.
First Since Feenstra
When Rachel Hammond tallied a career-high 25 points against High Point on Saturday, she became the first Liberty player not named Frazee to score 20 points in a game since March 22, 2005. That day, Katie Feenstra went for 29 points against DePaul, sending the Lady Flames into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.
Since then, sisters Megan and Moriah Frazee had been the only Liberty players to eclipse the 20-point plateau, prior to Hammond's effort on Saturday.
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 184-51 (.783) all-time at the Vines Center, including 13-0 last season. The Lady Flames, 6-2 at the Vines Center in 2008-09, have 12 home games scheduled this season.
Dial Three Digits for Long Distance
The Lady Flames have been able to continue a long-standing streak, so far this season. The Lady Flames have made at least one three-pointer in a school-record 123 straight games, a run which began on Feb. 26, 2005. None of the current Lady Flames were in college when the streak started.
It took just 14 seconds for Liberty to keep the streak alive on Saturday, as Rachel Hammond nailed a triple on the game's opening possession.
The Lady Flames are currently on a 10-game winning streak, as they have not lost a game since falling at No. 19/20 Vanderbilt on Dec. 22.
The streak is the 10th longest in program history. Here is a look at the Lady Flames' longest winning streaks, eight of which have come with Carey Green as head coach.
1) 28 games (Nov. 21, 1997 - Feb. 28, 1998)
2) 22 games (Dec. 21, 2002 - March 9, 2003)
3) 19 games (Jan. 6, 2004 - March 13, 2004)
4) 14 games (Jan. 28, 2006 - March 11, 2006)
5T) 13 games (Jan. 5, 2008 - Feb. 23, 2008)
5T) 13 games (Jan. 24, 2002 - March 2, 2002)
7T) 12 games (Jan. 15, 2005 - Feb. 21, 2005)
7T) 12 games (Jan. 23, 1999 - Feb. 27, 1999)
9) 11 games (Feb. 3, 2000 - March 4, 2000)
10) 10 games (Dec. 29, 2008 - Present)
Nation's Longest Winning Streaks
Liberty has won 10 games in a row, which is tied for the sixth-longest active winning streak among NCAA Division I women's basketball games, entering Monday's action.
No. 1 Connecticut has won a nation-best 21 games in a row.
Starting guards Amber Mays and Rachel Hammond have been keys to Liberty's defensive efforts, as they rank fifth and seventh, respectively, on the Big South steals leaderboard.
Mays has notched 26 steals in the past seven games, including a career-high eight-steal effort versus East Tennessee State on Jan. 13. Her eight steals were the most by a Lady Flame since Sharon Wilkerson recorded eight thefts at High Point on Feb. 21, 2000. Mays tied for the fifth-most steals in a single game in Liberty history.
Four more steals will make Mays the first Liberty player since Sharon Wilkerson in 1999-2000 to record 50 steals in a season.
Meanwhile, Hammond has been a consistent disruptive force on defense this season, tallying multiple steals in 12 of the first 20 games. As a result, the senior has already established a career high with 36 steals.
Megan Frazee has scored in double figures in each of her last 56 games, dating back to Jan. 27, 2007. It is the longest such streak of her career and the longest by a Liberty player since Elena Kisseleva tallied 10 or more points in 62 straight contests, spanning the 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.
Clamping Down on Defense
The Lady Flames have held 71 consecutive opponents under 50 percent field goal shooting. The last Liberty foe to sink more than half of its field goal attempts was Marist, at the Maryland Terrapin Classic on Dec. 29, 2006.
Liberty is off to a good start defensively in 2008-09. Fifteen of the Lady Flames' first 20 opponents, including the last 10 in a row, have shot below 40 percent from the floor. Liberty leads the Big South and ranks No. 26 nationally with a .347 opponents field goal percentage.
The Lady Flames are 13-2 this season when their opponents shoot under 40 percent from the field, but 0-5 when their foes make at least 40 percent of their field goal tries.
More Defensive Highlights
Liberty is allowing its opponents to score only 54.2 ppg this season. That figure ranks No. 23 in the nation and would set a program record, if the season ended today. The 2001-02 Lady Flames yielded a program record-low 54.7 ppg.
Climbing the Big South Rebounding Ladder
Megan Frazee's 14 rebounds versus High Point on Saturday pushed her into ninth place on the Big South's career rebounding list, with 819 boards.
Frazee will pass Jennifer Grant of Radford, a 2000 graduate, for eighth place with 13 more rebounds.
Cranking Up the Defense
Liberty has played exceptional defense during its current 10-game winning streak. The Lady Flames have held North Carolina A&T, Virginia Tech, Gardner-Webb, Coastal Carolina and High Point all to season-low point totals during the stretch. Liberty's 10 foes have scored only 47.8 ppg against Liberty and have combined to shoot just 31.9 percent from the field.
Winning the Battle of the Boards
The Lady Flames have outrebounded 16 teams in their first 20 games of the season. Only three teams (Western Carolina, James Madison and Winthrop) have won the rebounding battle against Liberty this season, as the Lady Flames lead the Big South Conference with a +10.4 rebounding margin.
Liberty, which currently ranks No. 8 nationally for rebounding margin, has finished in the top five nationally in the category for five consecutive seasons. The Lady Flames led the nation in rebounding margin during both the 2003-04 and 2004-05 campaigns.
Less Than a Point Per Minute
Liberty held High Point to 14 first-half points on Saturday, marking the fifth time this season, the Lady Flames have limited their opponent to fewer than 20 first-half markers. Liberty has gone on to win all five contests.