No. 4 seed Liberty will face No. 5 seed Charleston Southern in a Big South Women's Basketball Championship quarterfinal contest Friday at 2 p.m. at the Vines Center.
Big South Women's Basketball Championship Central Tournament Bracket Game Day Central Liberty's Tournament Notes Game Time: 2 p.m. TV Coverage: ESPN3 Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Evan Lepler Color Commentator: Nate Ross Radio Coverage: Liberty Flames Sports Network – Radio WQLU 90.9 FM The Light Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Jamie Hall
Tournament at a Glance Liberty (13-16, 12-6 Big South) will enter the 2017 Big South Women's Basketball Championship as the No. 4 seed for the first time in tournament history. The Lady Flames' quest for their 17th title in the last 21 years will begin with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 seed Charleston Southern (17-12, 11-7 Big South) Friday at 2 p.m. If Liberty wins, it will advance to a semifinal contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. The championship game is slated for Sunday at 4 p.m., with the entire tournament taking place at the Vines Center for the first time since 1998.
The "Starting Five" - Liberty's Top Tournament Storylines 1) The Lady Flames have made 20 consecutive Big South Women's Basketball Championship semifinal appearances. Liberty has advanced to the championship game 18 of those times, cutting the nets down as Big South champion on 16 occasions.
2) Liberty will attempt to join the 2006-07 UNC Asheville Bulldogs as the only No. 4 seeds to win the Big South Women's Basketball Championship title in tournament history.
3) The Lady Flames are 17-0 all-time in Big South Championship games played at the Vines Center and have won six tournament titles on their home court.
4) Liberty's current players have totaled only 14 points and 14 rebounds in Big South Championship games, topped by KK Barbour (7 points, 6 rebounds).
5) The Lady Flames feature a talented freshman class, led by Keyen Green (Big South Freshman of the Year, 8-time Big South Freshman of the Week) and fellow Big South All-Freshman Team members Iva Ilic and Ola Makurat. Liberty's seven freshmen have combined to score 60 percent of the Lady Flames' points this season.
Home Sweet Home Liberty is hosting the entire Big South Women's Basketball Championship for the third time (also 1997 and 1998). This weekend's tournament marks the first time a Big South Women's Basketball Championship game will take place at the Vines Center since the 2006 title game. Liberty is 17-0 all-time in Big South Championship contests at the Vines Center and won the 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 titles on its home court. Liberty has won 79.3 percent of its games at the Vines Center all-time, going 276-72 since the facility opened during the 1990-91 season. The Lady Flames are 9-4 at home this season, including 8-1 against Big South opponents.
No. 4 Seed Liberty enters the Big South Championship as the No. 4 seed for the first time in program history. This is the Lady Flames' lowest seed since earning a No. 8 seed for the 1996 Big South Championship. Liberty will attempt to become just the No. 4 seed ever to win a Big South Women's Basketball Championship title. No. 4 seed UNC Asheville cut down the nets when it hosted the 2007 Big South Championship at its home court, the Justice Center.
How's This For Openers? Liberty is 22-3 all-time in its opening game of the Big South Championship. The Lady Flames have won 20 straight openers, since losing to UNC Greensboro, 84-40, in the first round of the 1996 tournament. As a result, Liberty has made 20 straight semifinal appearances.
Success Versus Current Big South Teams Liberty is 40-7 in Big South Championship games against the other nine teams playing in this year's tournament. The Lady Flames own a winning record in the Big South Championship against every other team in the field.
Avoiding the Upset The Lady Flames own a 50-2 record all-time in the Big South Championship, when Liberty is seeded higher than its opponent.
Commonwealth Teams in the Championship Game Either Liberty or Radford has appeared in 29 of the 30 Big South Championship title games in conference history, with 2014 marking the lone exception. However, 2008 is the only time the Lady Flames and Highlanders have ever faced each other in the championship game. Liberty and Radford enter as two of the top four seeds in this year's tournament.
No More Nail-biters! The Lady Flames' final contest at the Big South Championship has been a close game each of the past 11 years, including last year's double overtime clash with UNC Asheville in the title game. Their championship game matchups in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and their semifinal losses to Radford in 2007 and Winthrop in 2014 have been decided by a total of 45 points (average of 4.1 points/game).
New Experience Liberty's current players have combined to score 14 points and grab 14 rebounds in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship, entering this year's tournament. KK Barbour is the team's active leader in Big South Championship points (7) and rebounds (6), while Audrey Rettstatt has appeared in the most Big South Championship games (4) of any current Lady Flame. Rettstatt and Sheana Vega are the only two players remaining from Liberty's team which won the 2015 Big South Championship. Rettstatt, Vega and Barbour are the only three current Lady Flames who have appeared in a Big South Championship title game. Junior Nene Johnson, redshirt freshmen Kaila Ballard and Kaitlyn Stovall and freshmen Keyen Green, Iva Ilic, Kierra Johnson-Graham, Ola Makurat and Lela Sellers are all set to make their Big South Championship debuts this weekend.
Liberty vs. Charleston Southern at a Glance Series History Series Record: Liberty leads, 57-6. Current Streak: Liberty has won 14 consecutive meetings. Series Record at Liberty: Liberty leads, 28-2. Current Streak at Liberty: Liberty has won 23 consecutive meetings. Series Record in Big South Championship: Liberty leads, 7-0. Current Streak in Big South Championship: Liberty has won 7 consecutive meetings. Last Meeting Overall: Liberty 67, Charleston Southern 56 (Feb. 17, 2017 at Liberty) Last Meeting at Liberty: Same Last Meeting in Big South Championship: Liberty 68, CSU 53 (March 11, 2016 at Ashe.) CSU's Last Series Victory: Charleston Southern 54, Liberty 51 (Feb. 28, 2011 at CSU) CSU's Last Series Victory at Liberty: Charleston So. 65, Liberty 64 (Jan. 20, 1996)
Coaching Matchup Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green Overall Record (Seasons): 416-157 (18th Season) Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same Record vs. Charleston Southern: 40-1
Charleston Southern Head Coach: Fred Applin Overall Record (Seasons): 65-116 (Seventh Season) Record at Charleston Southern (Seasons): 52-96 (Fifth Season) Record vs. Liberty: 1-12
Notes and Anecdotes • Liberty won both regular-season matchups with Charleston Southern, beginning with an 81-72 triumph in the Big South opener at CSU on Jan. 3. Lela Sellers scored a career-high 21 points for the Lady Flames, who tied a program record with 12 three-pointers made. Rachel Burns paced the Buccaneers with 22 points.
• Double-doubles by Audrey Rettstatt (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Ola Makurat (10 points, 11 rebounds) helped Liberty post a 67-56 home victory over the Buccaneers on Feb. 17. Rachel Burns was CSU's high scorer with 19 points.
• Liberty is 7-0 all-time against Charleston Southern in the Big South Championship, including 3-0 in the quarterfinal round. The Lady Flames defeated CSU 68-53 in the quarterfinals last season, March 11, 2016 at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C. Catherine Kearney (17 points, 14 rebounds) helped Liberty enjoy a 55-22 rebounding advantage.
• Liberty has won 23 consecutive home meetings with Charleston Southern and is 28-2 when facing the Buccaneers in Lynchburg. CSU's most recent road victory against the Lady Flames was a 65-64 triumph on Jan. 20, 1996.
• CSU earned its highest seed since the 2011-12 Buccaneers were also seeded No. 5. On This Date Liberty is 3-1 all-time on March 10, including 1-0 against Charleston Southern. The Lady Flames posted a 72-52 victory over the Buccaneers in the Big South semifinals, March 10, 2012 at High Point. Hauling in the Hardware Four Lady Flames earned Big South Conference honors on Tuesday, including freshman Keyen Green (Freshman of the Year, second team All-Big South, All-Freshman Team), freshman Iva Ilic (All-Freshman Team), freshman Ola Makurat (All-Freshman Team) and senior Audrey Rettstatt (All-Academic Team). Green is the Lady Flames' fifth Big South Freshman of the Year but the first since Kristal Tharp in 2002. This is the second time Liberty has seen three players make the All-Freshman Team. Tharp, Katie Feenstra and Stephanie Walker were all part of the 2002 All-Freshman Team.
A Look Back at the 2016 Big South Championship No. 2 seed Liberty finished as the runner-up at the 2016 Big South Women's Basketball Championship, played at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C. Seniors Catherine Kearney and Sadalia Ellis made the all-tournament team.
March 11, 2016 - Quarterfinal - No. 2 seed Liberty 68, No. 7 seed Charleston So. 53 • Catherine Kearney posted a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Liberty outrebounded the Buccaneers, 55-22.
March 12, 2016 - Semifinal - No. 2 seed Liberty 51, No. 3 seed Radford 41 • Defense was the story, as the Lady Flames held Radford to 11 first-half points and 41 points overall, equaling the fewest ever scored in a Big South Championship semifinal.Jaymee Fisher-Davis scored a game-high points, while Catherine Kearney and Sadalia Ellis added 10 points apiece.
March 13, 2016 - Final - No. 1 seed UNC Asheville 64, No. 2 seed Liberty 62 (2OT) • The first-ever Big South Championship title game to go into overtime was not decided until UNC Asheville's Bronaza Fitzgerald scored from close range with 8.6 seconds remaining. Liberty's Ashley Rininger scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed eight boards.
Spreading the Wealth Liberty saw eight different players lead the team in scoring during Big South Conference play, including Lela Sellers (at CSU), Keyen Green (vs. HPU, vs. GWU, at PC, at HPU, at Winthrop), Iva Ilic (vs. PC, at Asheville, vs. Radford, at Longwood), KK Barbour (at GWU), Sheana Vega (vs. Longwood), Audrey Rettstatt (at Radford, vs. CSU), Ola Makurat (vs. Winthrop, vs. Asheville) and Nene Johnson (at Campbell, vs. Campbell).
What Can Green Do For You? Big South Freshman of the Year Keyen Green headlines the Lady Flames' successful freshman class. The Big South Freshman of the Week on Dec. 5, Jan. 2, Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27, Green set a new conference record with her eight Freshman of the Week honors. For the season, Green has recorded eight double-doubles and five 20-point outings. She also ranks No. 5 nationally among freshmen with her 8.0 rpg. Fantastic Freshmen Liberty's seven freshmen have combined to score 60 percent of the team's points this season, led by Keyen Green's team-high 12.3 ppg. Three of the team's top four scorers on the year are freshmen.
Winning the Battle of the Boards Liberty has outrebounded 22 of 29 opponents and has grabbed 20 or more offensive rebounds 10 times this season. The Lady Flames currently rank No. 7 nationally with 17.4 offensive boards per game and No. 12 with a +8.8 rebound margin.
The Container is Half Full The Lady Flames are 107-1 under head coach Carey Green when making at least 50 percent of their field goals, including 2-0 this season. Liberty has won the last 34 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 28 straight opponents below 50 percent field goal shooting, and only three teams in the last 126 games have connected on at least half of their field goal attempts against the Lady Flames. Player Trends #3 Nene Johnson • Leads the team and ranks seventh in the Big South with 2.8 apg, while also pacing the Lady Flames in steals (1.2 spg)
• Recorded at least one steal in 15 of the 18 Big South regular-season contests and averaged a team-high 1.4 spg during conference games
• Averaged 9.0 ppg in Big South games, as compared with 5.3 ppg in non-conference play
• 27 of her 80 free throw attempts this season have come during the final five minutes of games. She is shooting 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the line in those situations.
• Scored a team-high 13 points during the regular-season finale against Campbell (March 4), including seven in the fourth quarter • Tallied 13 points at Charleston Southern (Jan. 3), all of which came before halftime #10 Kierra Johnson-Graham • Ranks ninth in the Big South in offensive rebounding (2.2 rpg) #12 Audrey Rettstatt • Big South All-Academic Team member
• 2016-17 team captain is the lone senior on this year's roster
• Has scored more than twice as many points this season (153) than she did in her first three years combined (60)
• Posted her first career double-double (career-high 19 points, career-high 10 rebounds) during a Feb. 17 win over Charleston Southern • Scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds during the Lady Flames' Big South-opening win at Charleston Southern (Jan. 3) #14 Lela Sellers • Grabbed a career-high eight rebounds against Charleston Southern on Feb. 17 • Scored a career-high 21 points at Charleston Southern (Jan. 3), 15 of which came during the second half. She made a career-high four three-pointers and connected on all five of her free throws. #20 Sheana Vega • 2016-17 team captain
• One of only two current players (also Audrey Rettstatt) who were part of Liberty's 2015 Big South Championship-winning team
• Celebrated her 21st birthday on Monday (March 6) #21 Keyen Green • Big South Freshman of the Year (Liberty's first since 2001-02), second team All-Big South honoree (Liberty's first freshman to make the all-conference team since Devon Brown in 2009-10) and Big South All-Freshman Team member
• Eight-time Big South Freshman of the Week (Dec. 5, Jan. 2, Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 20 & Feb. 27), which is the most Big South Freshman of the Week honors in program and conference history
• Leads the Big South and ranks No. 5 nationally among freshmen for rebounding (8.0 rpg), while also topping the conference in offensive rebounding (3.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (58.8) #24 Iva Ilic • Big South All-Freshman Team member
• Leads the team and ranks first among Big South freshmen with 40 three-pointers. She made at least one triple in nine straight games between Dec. 29-Jan. 28. #30 KK Barbour • Liberty's active leader in Big South Championship points (7) and rebounds (6). All of those stats came during the 2016 quarterfinal matchup with Charleston Southern.
• Hit 10 straight free throws between Jan. 10-21 and is shooting a team-best 70.9 percent from the line this season (among players averaging at least one attempt per game)
• Had not made a three-pointer during her first 33 career appearances, but has connected on 15 triples in her last 20 games #35 Ola Makurat • Big South All-Freshman Team member
• Averaged 10.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg over her last five regular-season games and was named Big South Freshman of the Week on March 6
• Has hit 10 consecutive free throws since her last miss on Jan. 10, boosting her percentage to 79.2 • Recorded her first career double-double during a Feb. 17 victory over Charleston Southern, consisting of 10 points and a career high-equaling 11 rebounds
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