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WBB Game Day Central: Shepherd

December 18, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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WBB Game Day Central: Shepherd

Game Day Central Page

Liberty's Women's Basketball Game Notes

Game Time/Official Tipoff:
Noon

Video Streaming Coverage:
Big South Network

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

Today's Game
Liberty (3-7, 1-1 Big South) will play its final non-conference game of the 2015-16 regular season on Saturday, when Shepherd (2-7, 1-3 Mountain East) visits the Vines Center. Tipoff is slated for noon for the first-ever meeting between the Lady Flames and Rams, which will count as an exhibition game for Shepherd.

The "Starting Five" - Liberty's Top Storylines
1) Both teams will be looking to generate some positive momentum heading into Christmas. Liberty has lost back-to-back games and seven of its last eight. Meanwhile, Shepherd is riding a three-game losing streak and is 0-4 away from home this year. 

2) Liberty is off to its worst 10-game start (3-7) since the 2008-09 Lady Flames also opened the season at 3-7. However, that team finished at 24-9 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

3) Uncharacteristically, the Lady Flames have been outrebounded in back-to-back games. On Saturday, they will look to utilize their significant size advantage. Only two Shepherd players stand 6-0 or taller, as compared with nine Lady Flames.

4) Mickayla Sanders has led the Lady Flames in scoring during each of her first two games this season, after missing eight contests due to injury. The junior scored 12 points against Seton Hall and tallied seven markers at Duke.

5) Liberty will have a season-long 10-day break between games following Saturday's matinee. The Lady Flames will return to the court on Dec. 29 at Campbell for the first of 18 straight Big South games to close out the 2015-16 regular season.

Liberty vs. Shepherd At a Glance
Series History
Series Record:
First meeting

Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach:
Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 386-135 (17th Season) 
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Shepherd: 0-0

Shepherd Head Coach: Jenna Eckleberry
Overall Record (Seasons): 24-17 (Second Season)
Record at Shepherd (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Liberty: 0-0

Notes and Anecdotes
• Saturday's matinee will be the first-ever hardwood meeting between Liberty and Shepherd. The Rams are classifying this game as an exhibition contest.

• Shepherd is off to a 2-7 start to the 2015-16 season, after graduating its top two scorers from 2014-15. The Rams are 0-4 away from Shepherdstown, W.Va. this year.

• Last season, the Rams went 22-10, tied for the Mountain East Conference regular-season title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship.

• Jenna Eckleberry led Shepherd to an 18-win improvement during her first season at the helm in 2014-15, earning Mountain East Coach of the Year honors. Like Liberty Head Coach Carey Green, Eckleberry led her team to the NCAA Tournament and was named conference coach of the year in her first season as a collegiate head coach.

• Shepherd's roster features only one senior, Kristina Prange, who has not appeared in a game this year. Prange is one of just two Rams (also Hailey Brown) who stand 6-0 or taller.

• Shepherd's most recent regular-season game against an NCAA Division I opponent came Dec. 30, 2002 at Marshall, as the Rams lost by a score of 74-59.

• Shepherd is part of the Mountain East Conference (MEC), which began competition in 2013-14. Liberty is 8-4 all-time versus current MEC members, including 0-1 against Concord, 4-0 against Glenville State and 4-3 against UVa-Wise.

• Saturday will be a big day for the Shepherd athletic department, as the Rams football team faces Northwest Missouri State in the NCAA Division II national championship game in Kansas City, Kan.

On This Date
Liberty is 2-2 all-time when playing on Dec. 19. The Lady Flames' most recent Dec. 19 contest came in 2013, when Ashley Rininger led Liberty to a come-from-behind 64-55 win at UNCW with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Down But Not Out
The Lady Flames are off to their worst start through 10 games (3-7) since the 2008-09 team also opened up 3-7. However, that is not necessarily a bad sign, as both Liberty teams to start 3-7 or worse under Carey Green have reached the NCAA Tournament.

After a 3-7 start, the 2008-09 Lady Flames finished 24-9 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

The 2000-01 Lady Flames went 18-12 and made the NCAA Tournament after a 2-8 beginning to the season.

No Easy Games
Liberty's first 10 opponents this season have boasted a combined record of 37-10 at the time of the meeting. They have included three nationally ranked teams (No. 11/14 Ohio State, No. 16/15 California and No. 13/11 Duke), marking the first time since 2010-11 that the Lady Flames have faced three Top 25 squads during the regular season.

Tough Time in Tight Games
Liberty is just 2-4 in games decided by 10 points or fewer this season, after going 9-4 in such contests last season.

One contributing factor could be the Lady Flames' performance at the foul line. Liberty is shooting 68.0 percent at the free throw line in 2015-16. Last season, the Lady Flames connected on a program-record 74.5 percent of their free throw attempts.

Shaking Things Up
Head Coach Carey Green has used five different starting lineups during this season's first 10 games, including a different combination in four of the last five outings.

Four Lady Flames (Jaymee Fisher-Davis, Candice Leatherwood, Audrey Rettstatt and Sheana Vega) have made their first career start this season, while Mikal Johnson has appeared in the starting lineup for the first time as a Lady Flame.

Nine different Lady Flames have started at least once this season, and Ashley Rininger is the only player to start all 10 games.

A Look Back at the Lady Flames' 79-41 Loss at No. 13/11 Duke
• A career-high 26 points by Duke redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell and a 21-0 second-quarter run highlighted a 79-41 victory by the No. 13/11 Blue Devils over Liberty, Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

• Liberty was held to season-low figures in points (41) and field goal percentage (25.5 percent) and scored its fewest points since a 64-38 loss at Virginia on Dec. 7, 2011.

• The Blue Devils, who have now won 149 straight home games against unranked opponents, shot 47 percent (31-of-66) from the field and converted Liberty's 24 turnovers into 28 points.

• Three-pointers by Mickayla Sanders and Brooke Alexander bookended a 8-0 Liberty run which gave the Lady Flames a 12-11 advantage at 1:42 of the opening period. 

• The Blue Devils held Liberty without a point for more than six minutes during the second period, outscoring the Lady Flames 21-0 during the span. By the time Haley Gorecki hit two free throws 1:55 before halftime, Duke had opened up a 42-15 advantage. 

• Playing less than an hour away from her hometown of Clayton, N.C., Sanders paced the Lady Flames with seven points. It marked the first time since Nov. 25, 2011 versus Oklahoma that no Liberty player reached double digits in the scoring column. 

It's Been a While
Katelyn Adams pulled down 15 rebounds in consecutive games (Cal on Nov. 28 and Gardner-Webb on Dec. 2), becoming the first Lady Flame with back-to-back 15-board contests since Avery Warley (Dec. 30, 2008 and Jan. 3, 2009).

• Liberty has lost back-to-back opponents by 30+ points for the first time since Nov. 22 & 26, 2010 at Texas A&M and Baylor.

• After holding 69 straight opponents below 50 percent field goal shooting, Liberty has allowed three of its last five foes to make at least half of their field goal attempts.

• The Lady Flames have already been outrebounded as many times this season (3) as the entire 2014-15 campaign.

• Liberty's 36-point loss (92-56) to Seton Hall on Dec. 12 was its largest margin of defeat in Vines Center history. The facility opened in 1990.