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WBB Game Day Central: No. 4 seed North Carolina

March 18, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty will tip off its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance at North Carolina, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Liberty will tip off its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance at North Carolina, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Game Day Central Page

Liberty's Game Notes

NCAA Tournament Bracket - PDF Format

NCAA Tournament Bracket - Interactive

Tournament Central Page

ESPN2 Coverage Map

Ticket Information - Through Thursday at 6 p.m.

Ticket Information - After Thursday at 6 p.m.

Ticket Information
Single-session tickets for the general public are available for $6 each through the Flames Ticket Office.  The tickets for Saturday are for both NCAA Tournament games: Liberty vs. North Carolina and Ohio State vs. James Madison. The deadline for ordering tickets through Liberty is Thursday at 6 p.m. After that, tickets may be purchased through the North Carolina ticket office.

Tickets may be picked up before 6 p.m. Friday. After that, they will be available at Liberty will call at Carmichael Arena.

A Liberty student travel package is available for $5 per student that includes transportation, box lunch and game ticket.  Students must purchase the package through the myLU portal. 

Additional ticket information will be available throughout the NCAA Tournament at LibertyFlames.com.  The Flames Ticket Office can be contacted (434) 582-SEAT (7328) or tickets@liberty.edu

Game Time:
11 a.m.

Tipoff Time:
11:05 a.m.

TV Coverage:
ESPN2/ESPN3 - Coverage Map
Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Marc Kestecher
Color Commentator: Christy Winters Scott

Radio Coverage:
Liberty Flames Sports Network – Radio
WWMC 90.9 FM The Light
Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Jamie Hall

Today's Game
No. 13 seed Liberty (26-6, 19-1 Big South) will tip off its 16th NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearance Saturday at 11 a.m., when the Lady Flames match up against No. 4 seed North Carolina (24-8, 10-6 ACC) at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C. Saturday's victor will meet either No. 5 seed Ohio State or No. 12 seed James Madison in the second round, Monday at 6:30 p.m.

The "Starting Five" - Liberty's Top Storylines
1) After a one-year absence from postseason play, Liberty is making its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in 19 seasons. The Lady Flames are seeking their first tournament win since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2005 and their first victory over a Top 25 foe since that same season.

2) The Lady Flames have played well down the stretch, heading to Chapel Hill with a season-best 14-game winning streak and a 20-1 mark in their last 21 contests.

3) Liberty is matching up against an ACC opponent in the NCAA Tournament for the first time and playing its first-ever NCAA tilt in North Carolina. The Lady Flames are also aiming for their first win over the Tar Heels in three tries.

4) Liberty, which ranks No. 13 nationally in field goal percentage defense (34.9 percent), will try to slow down North Carolina's high-octane offensive attack. The Tar Heels average 75.5 ppg.

5) The Lady Flames are led by redshirt junior post player Ashley Rininger (12.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg). She was named the Big South Championship MVP, first team All-Big South and first team Richmond Times-Dispatch all-state.

Liberty vs. North Carolina At a Glance
Series History
Series Record:
North Carolina leads, 2-0.
Current Streak: North Carolina has won both previous meetings.
Series Record at North Carolina: North Carolina leads, 2-0.
Current Streak at North Carolina: North Carolina has won both previous meetings.
Last Meeting: North Carolina 88, Liberty 67 (Dec. 30, 2007 at No. Carolina)

Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach:
Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 383-127 (16th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. North Carolina: 0-2

North Carolina Head Coach: Sylvia Hatchell
Overall Record (Seasons): 959-339 (40th Season)
Record at North Carolina (Seasons): 687-259 (29th Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 3-0 (2-0 at North Carolina, 1-0 at Francis Marion)

Notes and Anecdotes
• Then No. 4/4 North Carolina defeated Liberty, 88-67, in the teams' most recent meeting, Dec. 30, 2007 at Carmichael Auditorium. LaToya Pringle paced the Tar Heels with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Frazee contributed 18 points and 12 boards for the Lady Flames, recording her 1,000th point during the contest. However, Liberty suffered one of its four losses during the 2007-08 season.

• North Carolina notched an 87-36 victory in its other previous matchup with Liberty, Nov. 21, 2005 at Carmichael Auditorium. Current Tar Heels assistant coach Ivory Latta posted 20 points and six assists for the victors. Megan Frazee had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Lady Flames, in just her second career game.

• Saturday's game will pit North Carolina's powerful offense (No. 23 nationally with 75.5 ppg) against Liberty's stingy defense (No. 13 nationally in field goal percentage defense at 34.9 percent).

• Liberty is 0-1 against ACC opponents this season, dropping a 67-64 decision at NC State on Dec. 17. The Lady Flames are seeking their first win over an ACC opponent since Dec. 30, 2008. That day, the Lady Flames notched a 45-43 victory at Virginia Tech in the championship game of the Hokie Hardwood Classic.

• North Carolina has won 49 straight games against Big South opponents since a 72-70 loss to Radford on Jan. 26, 1989.

• The only Liberty team ever to defeat North Carolina was baseball, by a 5-3 count on April 18, 2012.

A Look Back
Liberty is seeded No. 13 for the second straight time in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. On March 24, 2013, the No. 13 seed Lady Flames faced No. 4 seed Purdue in the first round at Louisville's KFC Yum! Center.

The Boilermakers recorded a 77-43 victory, paced by 21 points from Courtney Moses and 17 rebounds by Sam Ostarello. Devon Brown poured in 21 points for Liberty, eclipsing the 2,000-point milestone during her final career outing.

Welcome Back
The Lady Flames are returning to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in 19 seasons, after a one-year absence from postseason play in 2014. Liberty has never gone more than one year between NCAA appearances since making its tournament debut in 1997.

Lucky No. 13?
This will be Liberty's seventh time as a No. 13 seed in 16 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship appearances, making it the Lady Flames' most common seed.

In 2005, Liberty was a No. 13 seed when it upset No. 4 seed Penn State and No. 5 seed DePaul to reach the Sweet 16.

Six No. 13 seeds have won first-round games in tournament history, also including Texas A&M (1994), Rice (2000), Middle Tennessee (2004) and Marist (2007 & 2012). Like the 2005 Lady Flames, 1994 Texas A&M and 2007 Marist both advanced to the Sweet 16 as No. 13 seeds.

First Time Versus the ACC
Saturday's game against North Carolina will mark the first time Liberty has ever faced an ACC opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames matched up against current ACC members Louisville (2009) and Notre Dame (2012) before either school joined the conference.
    
Liberty has played a pair of NCAA games at an ACC facility. In 2005, the Lady Flames defeated Penn State and DePaul at Maryland's Comcast Center to reach the Sweet 16.

First Time in the Tar Heel State
Liberty will play its first-ever NCAA Tournament game in the state of North Carolina on Saturday, which will be the Lady Flames' shortest trip ever for an NCAA Tournament game (approximately 120 miles). The Tar Heel State becomes the 11th state to host a Lady Flames NCAA tilt, joining Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

However, the Lady Flames are no stranger to playing games in North Carolina during the regular season. Liberty is 4-2 in the Tar Heel State this season.

Surprising Fact
Despite the fact that Liberty will be playing in its 16th NCAA Tournament in 19 seasons, the current Lady Flames are rather inexperienced when it comes to the "Big Dance."

Only seven current players (Katelyn Adams, Sadalia Ellis, Jaymee Fisher-Davis, Jasmine Gardner, Catherine Kearney, Ashley Rininger and Ellee Rollins) have previously appeared in an NCAA Tournament game. None of the seven boasts multiple NCAA appearances, and they have totaled just 10 NCAA Tournament points.

Road Warriors
Liberty is 10-4 in true road games this season and brings a five-game road winning streak into Carmichael Arena.

The Lady Flames are seeking their first-ever true road victory in the NCAA Tournament. Liberty is 0-9 in true road games all-time in the "Big Dance."

There's Something About Saturday
Liberty is 12-1 in games played on Saturday this season. The Lady Flames have won nine consecutive Saturday tilts since a 74-60 setback at Minnesota on Dec. 20, with eight of those victories coming by double digits.

Liberty Versus Postseason Qualifiers
Liberty faced only two fellow 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship qualifiers this season, with the matchups coming on back-to-back days at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. The Lady Flames lost to Minnesota by a 74-60 count on Dec. 20 and dropped an 84-44 decision to South Carolina the following day.

The Lady Flames also played four games against WNIT qualifiers this season, going 2-2 overall against Elon (0-1), NC State (0-1) and Radford (2-0).

Heading Home
Two Lady Flames call North Carolina home, including Jaymee Fisher-Davis (Charlotte) and Mickayla Sanders (Clayton). Sanders will be playing just 45 miles away from her hometown of Clayton at Carmichael Arena.

Getting An Early Start
Saturday's game will be the sixth time this season that Liberty has tipped off at noon or earlier (local time). The Lady Flames are 3-2 in those contests, including 1-1 in North Carolina (victory over Gardner-Webb, loss to NC State).

Comeback Kids
Liberty is 6-4 this season when trailing at halftime and has won five straight games when going into the locker room behind on the scoreboard. Five times this season, the Lady Flames have erased a deficit of nine points or greater to win.

Similarly, North Carolina has turned a double-digit deficit into a victory five times in 2014-15.

Lengthy Layoffs
By the time Saturday's game tips off, both Liberty and North Carolina will be ready to play some basketball. The Lady Flames have not played since March 8, while the Tar Heels will be suiting up for the first time since March 6.

Keeping An Eye On the Streak
Liberty has kept 63 consecutive opponents below 50 percent field goal shooting since Purdue shot exactly 50 percent (26-of-52) during the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.

With its high-powered offensive attack (75.5 ppg), North Carolina could pose a threat to the Lady Flames' lengthy streak.

Liberty Versus the Top 25
Liberty has recorded four victories over Top 25 opponents all-time. Its last win over a Top 25 foe was an 88-79 triumph over No. 16/16 DePaul in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament (March 22, 2005). That also marked the highest-ranked team Liberty has ever defeated.

Summarizing the Streak
Liberty has won a season-best 14 consecutive games since a 63-58 loss at Winthrop on Jan. 20 and is 20-1 in its last 21 outings. This is the Lady Flames' longest winning streak since a 14-game streak spanning Jan. 19-March 10, 2013 and is tied for the fifth-longest winning streak in program history.

Amazing Ashley
Redshirt junior post player Ashley Rininger has enjoyed a highly decorated 2014-15 campaign, on and off the court.

• She was tabbed the Big South Championship MVP, first team All-Big South and first team Richmond Times-Dispatch all-state.

• A 4.0 student who is set to complete her master's degree in May, Rininger was also a first team Capital One Academic All-American and the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Supporting Cast
Other Lady Flames garnering postseason recognition include senior guards Karly Buer (second team All-Big South) and Emily Frazier (Big South Championship all-tournament team).

Recapping the Big South Regular Season
Liberty captured its 15th Big South regular-season title in 18 seasons with a 19-1 conference record. The Lady Flames' 19 conference victories set a new Big South record, shattering the previous mark of 16.

Tournament Tidbits
The No. 1 seed Lady Flames earned their 16th Big South Women's Basketball Championship title in 19 seasons by winning three games in four days (March 5-8) at The HTC Center in Conway, S.C.

• Liberty had to rally from 11 points down to defeat No. 8 seed UNC Asheville by a 59-51 count in the quarterfinal round on March 5.

• The Lady Flames needed to erase a nine-point first-half deficit to post a 74-64 championship game victory over No. 3 seed High Point on March 8.

• In between, Liberty recorded the largest margin of victory (28 points, 71-43) in a Big South semifinal since 2008, during its March 7 triumph over No. 5 seed Campbell.

• Tournament MVP Ashley Rininger recorded double-doubles in all three games, averaging 15.3 ppg and 11.7 rpg.

Darlings of Defense
Liberty has played strong defense throughout the 2014-15 season. The Lady Flames have held 11 opponents below the 50-point mark and rank No. 13 nationally in field goal percentage defense at 34.9 percent.

Fantastic at the Foul Line
The Lady Flames have fared well at the free throw line this season, ranking No. 1 in the Big South and No. 22 nationally at 75.0 percent.

• Liberty is on track to break the program single-season record of 72.8 percent, set in 2007-08.

• Eight of the 10 players in the Lady Flames' regular rotation are shooting 73 percent or higher.

Jaymee Fisher-Davis, who is 12-for-12 at the foul line this season, has made a program-record 26 straight free throws, dating back to her freshman year (2012-13). Earlier this season, Karly Buer tied the existing program record of 22 consecutive made free throws before Fisher-Davis eclipsed the mark during the Big South Championship.

Winning the Close Ones
One of the biggest differences between the 2014-15 Lady Flames and last year's team is Liberty's ability to win close games. The Lady Flames are 9-3 this season in games decided by 10 points or fewer after going just 6-9 in such contests a year ago.

Taking Care of the Basketball
Liberty is averaging 16.4 turnovers/game this season, which is the Lady Flames' lowest average since the 1993-94 Lady Flames posted 16.2 turnovers per contest.

• The Lady Flames have averaged just 14.0 turnovers per outing during their last 15 games, going 14-1 over that stretch.

• Taking care of the ball will be a key to Saturday's game against North Carolina, which forces its opponents to commit 20.5 turnovers/game. Liberty averaged 34.0 turnovers/game during its two previous meetings with the Tar Heels.

Bench Bunch
Depth is one of Liberty's greatest strengths. No player averages more than 25.2 minutes/game, and the Lady Flames have outscored 12 straight opponents in bench points. Ten different players have scored more than 100 points for Liberty this season, and all ten have scored in double figures at least twice in 2014-15.

Lady Flames' Big 3
Liberty's roster features a trio of redshirt juniors standing 6-4 or taller, including 6-6 Catherine Kearney, 6-5 Katelyn Adams and 6-4 Ashley Rininger. The Lady Flames are one of 11 NCAA Division I women's basketball programs featuring three players who stand 6-4 or taller, including the only such squad in the Big South.

The other 10 teams with at least three 6-4 players include Dayton, Duke, Florida A&M, Monmouth, Penn State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Texas, UCLA and Wisconsin.

Patroling the Paint
For 21 consecutive games, Liberty has both won the rebounding battle and defeated its opponent in points in the paint. During that stretch, the Flames have gone 20-1.

Rejected!
Liberty ranks No. 45 nationally with 4.7 blocked shots per game. Leading the way are two of the top six shot blockers in program history, Ashley Rininger (53 blocks) and Katelyn Adams (32). Surprisingly, 5-6 Sadalia Ellis is third on the team with 16 rejections.

Winning the Battle of the Boards
Liberty has outrebounded 21 consecutive opponents, moving up to No. 10 nationally in rebound margin at +10.0.

The Container is Half Full
The Lady Flames are 100-1 under head coach Carey Green when making at least 50 percent of their field goals, including 4-0 in 2014-15. Liberty has won the last 27 times it has shot 50 percent or better, since an 83-77 loss to Kentucky in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship (March 20, 2010).

The Container is Half Empty
Liberty has held 63 straight opponents below 50 percent shooting from the field. Purdue was the Lady Flames' most recent foe to make at least half of its field goal attempts, connecting at a 50.0 percent (26-of-52) clip during the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship (March 24, 2013).

Upholding the Tradition
• The 2014-15 Lady Flames have clinched their 19th straight winning season. The streak started in 1996-97, the first year the Lady Flames won the Big South Championship title.

• Liberty has now posted eight straight 20-win seasons and 17 20-win campaigns in the last 19 years.

• Liberty has notched 16 consecutive seasons with 10+ Big South wins, including 2014-15.

• After earning its 15th Big South regular-season title in 18 years this season, the Lady Flames claimed their 16th Big South Championship crown in 19 seasons.