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WBB Game Day Central: No. 1 seed Notre Dame

March 14, 2012
|  Notre Dame, Ind.
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No. 16 seed Liberty will play at No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Sunday at approximately 2:40 p.m. inside Purcell Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind.

Game Day Central

Complete Game Notes


Television Coverage:
ESPN2

Video Streaming Coverage:
ESPN3

Radio Coverage:
Provided by the Flames Sports Network

Broadcast - Tip-Off:
2:40 p.m. (approximately) vs. No. 1 seed Notre Dame

Broadcasting Station:
The Light (90.9 FM WWMC)

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Sunday's game will be televised on ESPN2, with Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke providing the commentary. Residents of central Virginia, Indiana and the Chicago area will be able to see the game in its entirety.

In most of the rest of the country, viewers will be provided "whip-around" coverage, featuring portions of all four games being played during the Sunday 2:30 p.m. time slot. Click here to view the ESPN2 coverage map.

Outside of central Virginia, Indiana and the Chicago area, fans wishing to see the entire Liberty-Notre Dame contest may do so via either the ESPN FULL COURT pay-per-view package or ESPN3 on the Internet.

Jamie Hall, who has done the radio call for every one of Liberty's 13 previous NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearances, will be courtside once again at Notre Dame. His radio broadcast of the game may be heard on 90.9 FM WWMC "The Light" or streamed online at www.thelightonline.com.

Fans may also track the Liberty-Notre Dame game through GameTracker live stats and updates on the official Twitter account of Liberty Athletics, @libertyflames.

Today's Game
No. 16 seed Liberty (24-8, 16-2 Big South) will play No. 1 seed Notre Dame (30-3, 15-1 BIG EAST) in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship, Sunday at approximately 2:40 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind. The winner will move on to play either No. 8 seed California or No. 9 seed Iowa Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m., with a spot in the Sweet 16 in Raleigh, N.C. on the line.

The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) After winning the Big South Women's Basketball Championship title as the No. 1 seed, Liberty will have a role reversal this weekend. The Lady Flames enter the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship seeded No. 16, where they will be a considerable underdog on the road against No. 1 seed Notre Dame, the BIG EAST regular-season champion.

2) Liberty is 0-2 all-time against Notre Dame, but the teams have not played since Dec. 5, 1999. That day, the Fighting Irish defeated the Lady Flames, 85-68, in the championship game of the Wachovia Women's Invitational in Richmond, Va. Liberty has never played Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion nor faced off with the Fighting Irish in the NCAA Tournament.

3) Five first team all-conference honorees will be featured on Sunday. Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters all made the first team All-BIG EAST squad. Meanwhile, Liberty's Devon Brown and Avery Warley were each first team All-Big South members.

4) Liberty tops the nation with its +16.4 rebound margin. However, the Lady Flames will be challenged on the glass by Notre Dame, which ranks No. 12 nationally at +9.1.

5) Redshirt senior center Avery Warley headlines Liberty's rebounding efforts, ranking No. 7 in the nation with 11.6 rpg. She has fared well on the glass in two previous NCAA Tournament appearances, averaging 11.5 rpg against Louisville (2009) and Kentucky (2010).

Liberty vs. Notre Dame At a Glance
Series History
Series Record:
Notre Dame leads, 2-0.
Last Meeting: Notre Dame 85, Liberty 68 (Dec. 5, 1999 at Richmond)
First Meeting: Notre Dame 113, Liberty 35 (Nov. 24, 1989 at UCF)

Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach:
Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 310-102 (13th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Notre Dame: 0-1

Notre Dame Head Coach: Muffet McGraw
Overall Record (Seasons): 674-255 (30th Season)
Record at Notre Dame (Seasons): 586-214 (25th Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 2-0

Notes and Anecdotes
-- The last time Liberty and Notre Dame played one another was in the championship game of the Wachovia Women's Invitational in Richmond, Va., on Dec. 5, 1999. The Fighting Irish dealt the Lady Flames an 85-68 setback in Carey Green's fifth game as Liberty's head coach.

-- In the 1999 meeting, Notre Dame was led by Ruth Riley's 32 points. Riley was a teammate of Liberty graduates Megan Frazee and Katie (Feenstra) Mattera on the San Antonio Silver Stars during the 2009 WNBA season.

-- Niele Ivey and Kelley (Siemon) Deyo also played for Notre Dame in that contest. Ivey is now in her fifth season as an assistant coach for her alma mater. Meanwhile, Deyo served as an assistant coach at Liberty for four seasons (2004-07) and is now the color commentator for the Flames Sports Network's television broadcasts of Liberty's games.

-- The Lady Flames will be playing at Notre Dame for the first time, but both the Liberty men's basketball (2009-10 and 2010-11) and volleyball teams (2008) have previously played at the Purcell Pavilion.

-- Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell spoke about his dream that Liberty's football team would one day defeat Notre Dame on its home field. About nine months after he died, the Flames baseball team beat Notre Dame, 6-2, on Feb. 22, 2008 in Clearwater, Fla., becoming the first Liberty squad to post a head-to-head victory over the Fighting Irish.

-- Notre Dame head coach Muffet (O'Brien) McGraw played for the first four women's basketball teams in the history of the St. Joseph's program (1973-77). Several years later, Kate (McPeak) Kearney joined the team, playing from 1979-83. Kearney is the mother of Liberty freshman forward/center Catherine Kearney.

A Look Back
Liberty's last NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearance came in 2010, when the Lady Flames earned a No. 13 seed in the Kansas City regional. Liberty's first-round matchup pitted the Lady Flames agains No. 4 seed Kentucky, on March 20, 2010 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.

Playing in front of a partisan Kentucky crowd, the Lady Flames took a 35-33 halftime lead. However, the Wildcats came back in the second half for an 83-77 triumph. Current Liberty players Devon Brown (24 points) and Avery Warley (17 points, 14 rebounds) both starred in the contest.

Common Threads
This year's Liberty and Notre Dame squads share a couple things in common.

-- Both the Lady Flames and the Fighting Irish were seeded No. 1 in their respective conference tournaments. However, both teams had to play the championship game on the road against a lower-seeded opponent.

-- Liberty won the Big South title on the home court of No. 2 seed High Point, 81-73. Meanwhile, Notre Dame lost at No. 3 seed Connecticut by a 63-54 score in the BIG EAST title tilt.

-- Liberty and Notre Dame are two of the nation's top rebounding teams. The Lady Flames rank No. 1 nationally with a +16.4 rebound margin. The Fighting Irish rebound margin is +9.1, which sits No. 12 in the nation.

Battling the BIG EAST
Sunday's game at Notre Dame will mark the fifth time in Liberty's last six NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearances that the Lady Flames have had a connection to the BIG EAST Conference.

In both 2005 and 2006, Liberty faced off with DePaul in the tournament. The Lady Flames then played Louisville in the 2009 opener, before playing on Louisville's home court the following season, during its matchup with Kentucky.

At Home on the Road
Notre Dame has been tough to beat on its home court at the Purcell Pavilion in 2011-12, going 15-1. The record includes wins over Connecticut, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Liberty has played well away from home this season, notching a 13-5 record outside of Lynchburg. The Lady Flames are 11-1 in their last 12 road/neutral contests, including three victories at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C. during the Big South Women's Basketball Championship.

Successful Tournament Debuts
Two current Lady Flames enjoyed strong NCAA Tournament debuts. Redshirt senior Avery Warley paced all players with nine rebounds against Louisville in 2009. The following year, Devon Brown scored a team-high 24 points during Liberty's first-round clash with Kentucky.

2012 Tournament Debuts
Five Liberty players could see their first NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship action on Sunday. The list includes sophomores Jasmine Gardner and Terika Lunsford and freshmen Catherine Kearney, Reagan Miller and Ellee Rollins.

Redshirt junior Tolu Omotola has not played an NCAA Tournament game in a Liberty uniform. However, she appeared in TCU's first-round loss to South Dakota State in the 2009 tournament during her lone season with the Horned Frogs.

Hello, Hoosier State!
Sunday's game will mark Liberty's second contest in Indiana. The Lady Flames' only previous visit to the Hoosier State resulted in a 97-46 loss to Indiana, Nov. 30, 1991 in Bloomington, Ind. The matchup opened Liberty's first season in the Big South, 1991-92.

Liberty Versus Postseason Qualifiers
Liberty faced only one 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship qualifier during the regular season. The Lady Flames lost 76-45 to Oklahoma on Nov. 25 in the opening round of the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

However, the Lady Flames played six other teams who advanced to postseason play. High Point, James Madison, Richmond, VCU and Virginia are all playing in the WNIT, while Charleston Southern is taking part in the WBI.

Liberty went 5-5 against those six squads this season, with the five victories coming versus Charleston Southern (three times) and High Point (twice).

Sizing Up a 16 Seed
Liberty is seeded No. 16 for just the third time in 14 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearances. The other two times the Lady Flames garnered a No. 16 seed came in the first two NCAA appearances in program history, in 1997 and 1998.

The 1997 Lady Flames dropped a 102-52 decision at Old Dominion in the first round. The following year, Liberty was again seeded No. 16, despite taking a 28-0 record into the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames fell 102-58 at eventual national champion Tennessee.

Only once in tournament history has a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed. In 1998, Harvard knocked off top-seeded Stanford on its home court, 71-67.

Star Power
Both Liberty and Notre Dame feature multiple first team all-conference performers.

-- Liberty's Devon Brown and Avery Warley were both first team All-Big South honorees. Warley added a Big South Championship MVP award to her resume last weekend.

-- Notre Dame was represented on the first team All-BIG EAST roster by the trio of Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters. Diggins was also the BIG EAST Player of the Year, while Peters was voted BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year.

A Streak in Jeopardy?
Liberty has kept 54 straight opponents below 50 percent field goal shooting since BIG EAST member St. John's shot 52.9 percent against the Lady Flames on Dec. 28, 2010.

Notre Dame features a high-powered offense, which ranks No. 2 nationally in points per game (79.6) and No. 3 in field goal percentage (47.3).

Liberty vs. the BIG EAST
Record vs. Current Conference Members:
3-10
Carey Green's Record vs. Current Conference Members: 3-6
Current Streak: BIG EAST teams have won the last four meetings.
Last Meeting: St. John's 81, Liberty 66 (Dec. 28, 2010 at Maryland)
Liberty's Last Win: Liberty 88, DePaul 79 (March 22, 2005 at Maryland)

Liberty Versus the Top 25
Notre Dame enters the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship ranked No. 4 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls.

-- The Fighting Irish will be the 39th nationally ranked opponent Liberty has ever faced and the second this season. The Lady Flames lost to No. 12/14 Oklahoma, 76-45, Nov. 25 at the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

-- Notre Dame is the highest-ranked opponent Liberty has played since Nov. 26, 2010, when the Lady Flames lost 81-42 at No. 2/3 Baylor.

-- The Lady Flames are 4-34 all-time against Top 25 foes. Here are Liberty's four victories.

Nov. 26, 2002 - 77-69 (OT) win over No. 23 Virginia in Lynchburg, Va.
Dec. 4, 2004 - 77-56 win over No. 17/19 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.
March 20, 2005 - 78-70 win over No. 22/25 Penn State in College Park, Md. (NCAA)
March 22, 2005 - 88-79 win over No. 17 DePaul in College Park, Md. (NCAA)

Tradition of Excellence
Liberty enters the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship as the Big South Conference regular-season and tournament champion and with 24 victories. This is nothing new for the Lady Flames.

-- Liberty has won 14 Big South Championship titles in the last 16 seasons.

-- The Lady Flames have won 13 Big South regular-season championships in the last 15 seasons.

-- Liberty has notched 14 20-win seasons in the last 16 years.

A Look Back at Liberty's 14th Big South Championship
-- Liberty punched its NCAA ticket by winning its three games at the Big South Women's Basketball Championship, March 9-11 at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C.

-- The No. 1 seed Lady Flames' road to the championship included a 71-50 quarterfinal victory over No. 8 seed UNC Asheville (March 9), a 72-52 semifinal triumph over No. 5 seed Charleston Southern (March 10) and an 81-73 championship game victory over the host team, No. 2 seed High Point (March 11).

-- Avery Warley was named tournament MVP after averaging 17.0 ppg and 15.7 rpg. In the semifinal matchup against Charleston Southern, she posted 20 points and a tournament record-tying 22 rebounds.

-- Devon Brown joined her on the all-tournament team after a stellar performance in the championship game. Brown led the Lady Flames with 24 points and paced all players with a career-high 14 rebounds against High Point.

-- Freshman Reagan Miller played well as the Lady Flames' floor general, finishing the tournament with 14 assists and only six turnovers. During the championship game, her eight helpers equaled a career high and she committed just two turnovers while playing all 40 minutes.

-- Liberty controlled the area around the basket, outrebounding its opponents by an average of 21.7 boards per game (53.0-31.3). The Lady Flames averaged 27.3 offensive rebounds per contest, while posting a 116-54 advantage in points in the paint and a 72-25 edge in second-chance points.

-- The Lady Flames' bench played a key role, outscoring the opponents' reserves 50-21 during the tournament.

-- Finally, Liberty did a good job of protecting the basketball. After entering the tournament with an average of 21.3 turnovers per game on the season, the Lady Flames averaged only 12.7 turnovers per contest in the Big South Championship. Liberty committed a season-low nine miscues in the title game against High Point.

Windex Warley
-- Avery Warley was dominant on the boards at the Big South Women's Basketball Championship, averaging 15.7 rpg and pulling down 30 offensive caroms in three games. During the semifinal game against Charleston Southern, she tied a tournament record with 22 rebounds and equaled the school record with 14 offensive boards.

-- For the year, Warley ranks No. 7 nationally with 11.6 rpg and has broken her own Liberty single-season rebounding record with 371 boards.

-- Earlier this year, Warley broke the Liberty and Big South Conference career rebounding marks. She enters the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship with 1,272 rebounds during her four years with the Lady Flames.

-- During both of her NCAA Tournament appearances (2009 vs. Louisville and 2010 vs. Kentucky), Warley has led all players in the game in rebounds. She pulled down nine boards against Louisville and had 14 caroms versus Kentucky.

Andy's Area
-- Liberty assistant coach Andrea "Andy" Bloodworth grew up less than 40 miles from Notre Dame's campus in St. Joseph, Michigan.

-- Bloodworth also gained familiarity with Indiana when she served as an assistant coach at Valparaiso for two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07). Notre Dame beat Valparaiso both years, but only by a total of nine points.

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 +16.4 rebound margin. If it holds up, that margin would break the program and Big South single-season records and would rank No. 5 in NCAA Division I women's basketball history.