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WBB Game Day Central: No. 8 seed UNC Asheville
Provided by the Flames Sports Network
Broadcast - Tip-Off
12 p.m. vs. UNC Asheville
The Light (90.9 FM WWMC)
No. 1 seed Liberty (21-8, 16-2 Big South) will open play at the 2012 Big South Women's Basketball Championship Friday at noon, when the Lady Flames square off with No. 8 seed UNC Asheville (7-22, 3-15 Big South) at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C. The winner will move on to Saturday's 1:30 p.m. semifinal, to meet the winner of Friday's contest between No. 4 seed Campbell and No. 5 seed Charleston Southern.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Liberty enters the Big South Championship on a roll, having won four games in a row and 15 of its last 16 contests. The Lady Flames have won their opening game of the Big South Championship 15 years in a row and have prevailed in 10 straight head-to-head matchups with UNC Asheville. Liberty won its pair of matchups with the Bulldogs this year by an average of 26.5 ppg.
2) Meanwhile, Asheville has lost four Big South Championship contests in a row since winning the 2007 tournament title. The Bulldogs have also lost 11 straight games overall and 17 consecutive games away from home, dating back to last season.
3) Liberty hopes history repeats itself this year. The last time the Lady Flames faced Asheville in the Big South Championship came in the 2005 title game. Liberty won that contest by an 88-41 score, propelling the Lady Flames to a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
4) The Lady Flames have played 13 games at the Millis Center since the start of the 2008-09 season, going 11-2. Liberty won Big South Championship titles at the facility in both 2009 and 2010.
5) Liberty's Avery Warley and Asheville's Kelli Riles are ranked No. 7 and No. 11, respectively, on the NCAA's national rebounding list. Riles owns the Big South single-game rebounding record at 28, while Warley owns the Big South single-season (363) and career (1,225) rebounding marks.
Liberty vs. UNC Asheville At a Glance
Series Record: Liberty leads, 44-7.
Current Streak: Liberty has won the last 10 meetings.
UNC Asheville's Last Victory: UNC Asheville 54, Liberty 51 (Feb. 24, 2007 at Liberty)
Series Record in Big South Championship: Liberty leads, 5-0.
Current Streak in Big South Championship: Liberty has won all five meetings.
Asheville's Last Victory in the Big South Championship: None
Last Meeting: Liberty 84, UNC Asheville 53 (Feb. 27, 2012 at Liberty)
Last Meeting in Big South Championship: Liberty 88, UNC Asheville 41 (March 12, 2005)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 307-102 (13th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. UNC Asheville: 29-1
UNC Asheville Head Coach: Betsy Blose
Overall Record (Seasons): 239-248 (17th Season)
Record at UNC Asheville (Seasons): 125-171 (10th Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 1-21
Notes and Anecdotes
-- UNC Asheville will try to snap a few losing streaks on Friday. The Bulldogs have lost 10 straight contests against Liberty, 11 straight games overall and 17 consecutive contests away from Asheville.
-- Asheville captured the 2007 Big South Championship title on its home court at the Justice Center, halting Liberty's run of 10 straight championships. Since then, however, the Bulldogs have lost in the first round each of the last four years.
-- The last time Liberty and Asheville squared off in the Big South Championship, the Lady Flames defeated the Bulldogs in the 2005 title game, 88-41. The next week, Liberty defeated Penn State and DePaul to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
-- Asheville assistant coach Tiffany (Ratcliff) Gwynn was a part of Liberty's first three Big South championship-winning teams. She was a player for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Lady Flames teams and then served as an assistant coach in 1998-99.
-- Liberty's Avery Warley and Asheville's Kelli Riles are ranked No. 7 and 11, respectively, on the NCAA national rebounding list. They also both own Big South rebounding records. Riles pulled down a Big South single-game record 28 boards against USC Upstate on Nov. 30. Warley owns the Big South single-season (363 in 2010-11) and career (1,225 and counting) rebounding standards.
The #1 to Beat
The Lady Flames enter the Big South Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 13th time in the last 15 seasons. Eleven of the previous 12 times Liberty has been the top seed, the Lady Flames have gone on to win the tournament championship.
Third Time's a Charm?
As the Big South regular-season champion, the Lady Flames will aim to halt a recent trend in the conference. The last two regular-season champions (Gardner-Webb in 2009-10 and Liberty in 2010-11) have failed to win the Big South Championship title.
How's This For Openers?
Liberty is 17-3 all-time in its opening game of the Big South Championship. The Lady Flames have won 15 straight openers, since losing to UNC Greensboro, 84-40, in the first round of the 1996 tournament.
This Seems Familiar
Liberty enters the Big South Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 13th time in 21 all-time tournament appearances. All-time, Liberty has been seeded No. 1 12 times, No. 2 twice, No. 3 twice, No. 6 twice, No. 7 once and No. 8 once.
Success Versus Current Big South Teams
Liberty is 33-4 in Big South Championship games against the seven other teams playing in this year's tournament. Campbell and Radford (three times) are the only two squads in the 2012 tournament who have ever defeated the Lady Flames in the Big South Championship.
Avoiding the Upset
The Lady Flames own a 38-1 record all-time in the Big South Championship, when the Lady Flames are seeded higher than their opponents.
Commonwealth Teams in the Championship Game
Either Liberty or Radford has appeared in all 25 Big South Championship title games in conference history. However, 2008 is the only time the Lady Flames and Highlanders have ever faced each other in the championship game.
A Positive Omen?
Liberty's 72-66 home win over Radford on March 2 marked the 13th time in the last 15 seasons, the Lady Flames have closed the regular season with a victory. Liberty has gone on to capture the Big South Championship crown 11 of the last 12 times it won its final regular-season tilt.
Dating back to 1997-98, Liberty has gone on to win the Big South Championship title each of the last 10 times it has defeated Radford in the regular-season finale.
Lack of Overtime
None of Liberty's 48 Big South Championship contests have gone to overtime. Most of the time, the games have been decided by a wide margin, as 33 of the Lady Flames' tournament tilts have featured a double-digit spread between the two teams.
No More Nail-biters!
The Lady Flames' final contest at the Big South Championship has gone down to the wire each of the past six years. Their championship game matchups in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and their semifinal loss to Radford in 2007 have been decided by a total of 10 points.
Liberty will attempt to reclaim the Big South Championship title this weekend, after losing a 67-66 decision to Gardner-Webb in the 2011 championship game. Since the Lady Flames won their first Big South crown in 1997, they have never been denied the conference tournament title in back-to-back years.
-- Liberty's 72-66 home victory over Radford on March 2 gave the Lady Flames a 16-2 Big South record to end the season. That set a new Big South record for conference victories in a single season, breaking the previous mark of 15 set by the 2008-09 Liberty and 2009-10 Gardner-Webb squads.
Millis Center Memories
-- Liberty has gotten very familiar with the Millis Center in recent years, going 11-2 at the facility since the start of the 2008-09 season.
-- The Lady Flames' last two Big South championships were won at the Millis Center, in 2009 and 2010.
-- Avery Warley scored a career-high 28 points at High Point in the 2011 Big South Championship semifinals, including her 1,000th point.
-- Devon Brown hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds of the 2010 Big South Championship title game versus Gardner-Webb. She also scored a career-high 29 points at High Point on Jan. 30, 2010.
Keeping Good Company
-- In addition to leading the nation in rebound margin, the Lady Flames also rank No. 7 for field goal percentage defense and No. 15 for field goal percentage.
-- The only other teams in the nation who are ranked inside the nation's top 15 for both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense are No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Stanford and No. 4 Connecticut.
A Look Back at Liberty's Season-Ending Win Over Radford on March 2
-- Liberty closed out the regular season at 21-8, after posting a 72-66 victory over Radford at the Vines Center on March 2.
-- It marked the Lady Flames' 16th Big South win of the season, which broke the previous Big South record of 15 conference victories, held by the 2008-09 Liberty and 2009-10 Gardner-Webb squads.
-- The start of the game was delayed for 30 minutes due to travel difficulties by the Radford team.
-- Liberty's 31 free throws equaled the most the Lady Flames have ever made in a game at the Vines Center. Liberty shot 79.5 percent from the line for the game, including 85.7 percent (18-of-21) in the second half.
-- The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle for the 28th time in 29 games this year (47-31) and held their 51st straight opponent to below 50 percent field goal shooting (Radford finished at 36.9 percent).
-- Tolu Omotola scored 15 of her career-high 22 points in the second half. The redshirt junior also set new career highs for free throws made (10) and attempted (14), while sharing game-high honors with nine rebounds.
-- Omotola became the fifth player on this year's team who has a 20-point game to her credit during her career, joining Devon Brown, Reagan Miller, Avery Warley and LaKendra Washington. No Liberty team has boasted five 20-point scorers since the 1996-97 Lady Flames.
-- Devon Brown also scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half, 13 of which came during the final 4:31 of the contest. Brown, who went 11-of-13 at the free throw line, pulled down nine boards of her own.
-- Jasmine Gardner pulled down nine rebounds, which is the most she has ever tallied in a Big South game. All nine of the sophomore's boards came in the first half.
-- Reagan Miller was held to six points but hit all four of her free throws in the final minute.
-- At the 2011 Big South Championship, Avery Warley set a new tournament record with 48 rebounds in three games. During the tournament, she also broke the Big South single-season rebounding record, which she later extended to 363.
-- This year, Warley could break her Big South single-season rebounding record, as she enters the Big South Championship with 324 boards. However, High Point's Cheyenne Parker could get there first, after grabbing 357 caroms during the regular season.
-- Warley has pulled down 100 total rebounds in nine career Big South Championship tilts and needs 10 more to break Katie Feenstra's program record for most career boards at the Big South Championship.
Living at the Line
-- Free throws played a key role in Liberty's season-ending 72-66 win over Radford on March 2, as the Lady Flames shot 79.5 percent from the stripe and hit a season-high 31 foul shots for the game.
-- Liberty has done a good job of getting to the free throw line during Big South games this season, averaging 24.7 attempts per contest to just 14.4 attempts for the Lady Flames' opponents. Liberty has also boosted its free throw percentage to 69.9 percent during conference action.
Rulers of the Rebounds
Liberty has ranked among the nation's top five teams for rebound margin in each of the last nine seasons, leading the country on three occasions. This season, the Lady Flames currently rank No. 1 nationally, with a +15.9 rebound margin. If it holds up, that margin would break the program and Big South single-season records and would rank No. 7 in NCAA Division I women's basketball history.
The Container is Half Empty
-- None of Liberty's 29 opponents so far this season have shot 50 percent from the field.
-- The Lady Flames have now kept 51 straight opponents from making 50 percent of their field goals. The last opposing team to do so was No. 17/17 St. John's, which posted a 52.9 (27-of-51) field goal percentage versus Liberty on Dec. 28, 2010.
-- Since the start of the 2007-08 season, only four teams have shot 50 percent against Liberty in 160 games. By way of comparison, the Lady Flames have shot 50 percent 47 times during that span.