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Lady Flames Set for WNIT Debut at Charlotte
Liberty (22-10, 14-2 Big South) will begin its first-ever appearance in the Postseason WNIT Wednesday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to Charlotte (23-9, 9-5 A-10). The contest inside Halton Arena will mark Liberty's first meeting with the 49ers in program history, but it will be the second straight year Charlotte has faced a Big South team in the WNIT opener. Last season, the 49ers defeated Gardner-Webb in the first round, 74-60.
Liberty earned its spot in the WNIT field by virtue of its 12th Big South Conference regular-season title in the last 14 years. Charlotte, which tied for third place in the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10) standings, is one of eight A-10 teams which qualified for postseason play.
This is the third time in the past five years that the Big South regular-season champion has played at Charlotte in the first round of the WNIT. In 2007, the 49ers defeated High Point, 72-45. Last season, Charlotte posted the aforementioned 74-60 victory over Gardner-Webb in the WNIT opener.
The Lady Flames have won three straight games against A-10 foes, including triumphs over Xavier and Richmond during the 2007-08 season and a 73-53 win over La Salle this season. Liberty's victory over the Explorers came on Dec. 29, in the consolation game of the Terrapin Classic in College Park, Md.
Liberty has outrebounded 26 straight opponents and ranks No. 2 nationally with a +12.8 rebound margin. The Lady Flames will be challenged on the glass on Wednesday, though.
Charlotte sits No. 8 in the nation for rebound margin, at +9.2. Most recently, the 49ers outrebounded Xavier by a 55-41 count in the A-10 semifinals on March 6. Xavier is the NCAA's No. 10 squad in rebound margin.
Another similarity between the 49ers and Lady Flames is that both teams have three double-digit scorers. Charlotte is led by the trio of 5-10 senior guard Shannon McCallum (12.5 ppg), 5-8 junior guard Epiphany Woodson (11.9 ppg) and 6-3 sophomore forward Jennifer Hailey (10.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg). McCallum was a second team All A-10 honoree this season.
Warley is enjoying a sensational junior season for head coach Carey Green's Lady Flames. She ranks No. 7 nationally in double-doubles (19) and No. 9 nationally in rebounding (11.2 rpg). Warley, who eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier for her career on Saturday against High Point, has also set Liberty's single-season rebounding record with 357 boards.
Warley has collected 56 of those rebounds since Charlotte last took the court. Charlotte's last game prior to the WNIT came on March 6, when the 49ers lost to Xavier by a 69-53 score in the A-10 Tournament semifinals. Since then, Liberty has played four games, including its regular-season finale versus Presbyterian College (March 7) and three games at the Big South Women's Basketball Championship (March 11-13).
Liberty joins Butler and Delaware as the nation's only NCAA Division I teams who just played on Sunday and are opening postseason play on Wednesday.
The winner of Wednesday's Liberty at Charlotte game will advance to the second round of the WNIT, where they will face the victor of Wednesday night's Appalachian State at South Carolina clash. The date and location of the second-round game will be announced after the conclusion of Wednesday's matchups.