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Next Up for Liberty: GW Thanksgiving Classic

November 26, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sophomore Rachel McLeod is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season.

Sophomore Rachel McLeod is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season.

Full Game Notes (PDF format)

Live Video Streaming information

Live WWMC Radio Broadcast

Live Stats for Liberty-Hartford game

Live Stats for Liberty-South Alabama game

The Games
The Liberty Lady Flames (1-2, 0-0 Big South) will begin their second tournament of the 2008-09 season at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, when they meet the Hartford Hawks (3-2, 0-0 America East) in the opening contest of the GW Thanksgiving Classic. George Washington (2-2, 0-0 Atlantic-10) will host South Alabama (4-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) in the other first-round tilt, at 5:30 p.m. The two winning teams will square off in Saturday's championship game at 5:30 p.m., with the two losing teams facing each other in the consolation contest at 3. The tournament features four quality mid-major programs, which combined to go 103-28 last season.

What's at Stake
Liberty is hoping for a repeat of its performance during Thanksgiving weekend in 2007-08. Last year, the Lady Flames visited Atlantic-10 member Xavier and won the National City Xavier Invitational. George Washington also plays in the Atlantic-10.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans of the Lady Flames will have numerous ways to follow the team's progress, even if they cannot make it to the Smith Center on Friday and Saturday.

Both Liberty contests at the GW Thanksgiving Classic will be video streamed over the Internet. Fans wishing to view the video streaming will be required to purchase a $9.95 monthly package, which will allow them to watch all four tournament games. For more information, click here.

The Liberty games will also be broadcast over the radio, on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall will do play-by-play and Josh Wood will provide color analysis. The radio broadcast will also be available, free of charge, on the Internet. For more information, click here.

Live stats will be available for all tournament contests, courtesy of the George Washington Athletics Communications Department. Click here for live stats of the Liberty-Hartford game. Click here for live stats of the Liberty-South Alabama contest.

Scouting Hartford
The 3-2 Hartford Hawks received votes in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls this week, following their 53-51 upset win over No. 5/6 Duke on Nov. 21. The Hawks have dropped a pair of road contests since their victory over the Blue Devils, however, falling at DePaul on Nov. 22 and at No. 20/21 Ohio State on Tuesday.

Last season, Hartford won its third America East Tournament title in the past four years. The Hawks went on to defeat Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Top returnees from that team include preseason all-conference selections Erica Beverly, a 6-0 junior forward, and Diana Delva, a 6-2 junior forward/center. The Hawks' leading scorer so far this season is Lisa Etienne, with 13.0 ppg. The 5-6 senior guard was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 America East Tournament.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 214-70 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.754) ranked 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.

Jennifer Rizzotti is also in her 10th season as Hartford's head coach. A two-time America East Coach of the Year, she is 175-104 with the Hawks. Hartford has captured four America East championships under her direction. As a player at UConn, Rizzotti was a two-time All-American and part of the Huskies' 1995 national championship squad.

Liberty-Hartford Series Notes
Liberty and Hartford are meeting on the hardwood for the first time, Friday afternoon.

Liberty Versus the America East Conference
Liberty is 3-1 all-time versus current members of the America East Conference. The Lady Flames are 2-0 against Binghamton, 0-1 against Boston and 1-0 against New Hampshire.

Liberty won its only matchup against an America East foe last season, defeating Binghamton, 76-40, Dec. 8, 2007 at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames shot 62.8 percent from the floor against the Bearcats, including a 7-of-8, 17-point performance by Moriah Frazee and a 5-of-5, 13-point outing by Rachel Hammond.

Bracket Busters
During three of the last four NCAA Tournaments, either Liberty or Hartford has posted at least one upset victory.

The Lady Flames defeated Penn State and DePaul to reach the Sweet 16 of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Hawks senior Lisa Etienne was a freshman on the 2004-05 Penn State squad, but did not play against Liberty.

Hartford has advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second round twice in the last three seasons. The Hawks knocked off Temple in 2006 and beat Syracuse a season ago.

Scouting George Washington
The George Washington Colonials of the Atlantic-10 Conference enter the tournament with a 2-2 record. George Washington, picked to finish second in the conference, has won both of its home games and lost both of its road tilts. Antelia Parrish, a 6-0 senior guard/forward, paces the team with 13.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Jessica Adair, a 6-4 senior center, was a Preseason Wooden Award Candidate. She is currently averaging 10.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg.

Last season, George Washington made its second straight Sweet 16 appearance, defeating Auburn and California in the NCAA Tournament. The Colonials were ranked No. 14 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, after going 27-7 and winning a share of the Atlantic-10 regular-season crown. Kimberly Beck, the 2008 A-10 Player of the Year, graduated at season's end.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 214-70 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.754) ranked 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset. Green is 0-1 all-time coaching against George Washington.

Mike Bozeman is starting his first season as George Washington's head coach, and currently owns a 2-2 record. He was an assistant with the Colonials for three seasons, before being promoted after Joe McKeown left to take the Northwestern head coaching job.

Liberty-George Washington Series Notes
Liberty is 1-2 versus George Washington in program history. Most recently, the Colonials dealt the Lady Flames a 74-66 setback on Dec. 10, 2006 at the Smith Center. Megan Frazee tallied 28 points and 10 rebounds for Liberty, which owned an eight-point halftime lead against the homestanding Colonials. However, No. 19/21 George Washington came from behind during the final 20 minutes, putting all five starters in double figures. Jessica Adair contributed 13 points and five boards for the victorious Colonials.

The teams' other two meetings came during Liberty's second and third seasons of women's basketball. The Lady Flames claimed a 55-46 home win over George Washington to open the 1976-77 campaign and suffered a 74-30 road setback to the Colonials in the 1977-78 opener.

Liberty Versus the Atlantic-10
The Lady Flames are 6-22 all-time versus current members of the Atlantic-10, including 1-2 versus George Washington, 0-1 versus Massachusetts, 1-0 versus Rhode Island, 3-19 versus Richmond and 1-0 versus Xavier.

Last season, Liberty won both of its matchups against Atlantic-10 foes. The Lady Flames defeated Xavier, 61-56, on Nov. 25, 2007, in the championship tilt of the National City Xavier Invitational. Liberty then beat Richmond at home, 45-38, on Jan. 3, 2008.

Scouting South Alabama
The South Alabama Jaguars of the Sun Belt Conference are off to a 4-0 start, with all four victories coming at home at the Mitchell Center. The Jaguars, averaging 80.5 ppg, have three players in double figures, paced by 6-0 senior guard Jessica Starling. The transfer from Michigan is posting 18.3 points per outing. Shakira Nettles, a 5-11 junior guard, was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt third team. She is contributing 15.0 ppg and has made exactly half of her 20 three-point attempts.

Last season, South Alabama won 20 games for only the second time in the last 20 seasons, finishing at 20-11. Two starters return from that squad, including Nettles, who led the team with 11.0 ppg in 2007-08.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 10th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to eight Big South titles. A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 213-69 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.755) ranks 10th among active NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset.

Rick Pietri is 137-101 in his ninth season as South Alabama's head coach. A 1987 graduate of South Alabama, he has coached the Jaguars to a pair of Sun Belt West Division championships and appearances in the Preseason WNIT in both 2003 and 2004.

Liberty-South Alabama Series Notes
Liberty and South Alabama have only faced each other once in women's basketball, with the lone meeting coming on Dec. 3, 1994 in the Vines Center. The Jaguars defeated the Lady Flames, 70-56, in the consolation game of the Lady Flames Classic.

Liberty Versus the Sun Belt Conference
Liberty is 3-1 all-time versus the current membership of the Sun Belt Conference, including 1-0 against New Orleans, 0-1 against South Alabama and 2-0 against Western Kentucky.

The Lady Flames' most recent game againt a Sun Belt Conference squad came against Western Kentucky, on Jan. 8, 2004 at the Vines Center. Katie Feenstra paced Liberty with one of her best career performances, totaling 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots versus the Lady Toppers.

Liberty's lone matchup with Sun Belt opponent New Orleans was a memorable one. Sharon Wilkerson hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in a 74-73 road victory over the Lady Privateers on Jan. 5, 1998. Her last-second heroics helped Liberty remain undefeated. The Lady Flames went on to complete their only unbeaten regular season, at 26-0.

Liberty in Neutral-Site Tournament Games
Liberty's 45-44 Preseason WNIT victory over UC Riverside at Western Carolina on Nov. 21 continued a recent trend in neutral-site tournament contests. The Lady Flames won all five of their tournament games played on neutral floors during 2007-08.

The Third Time's a Charm
Liberty picked up its first-ever victory in the Preseason WNIT on Nov. 21, when the Lady Flames edged UC Riverside, 45-44. The triumph came in Liberty's third Preseason WNIT appearance. The Lady Flames also played in the 1999 and 2003 tournaments. Liberty is 1-4 all-time in the Preseason WNIT.

Fun on Fridays
The Lady Flames flourished in Friday contests during the 2007-08 season, going 5-0 on the most eagerly anticipated day of every work week. Liberty's five Friday victories were all notable, as the Lady Flames became the only visiting team to win at North Carolina A&T's Corbett Sports Center last season, exploded for 92 and 100 points against McNeese State and Virginia Union, respectively, wrapped up the UNLV Lady Rebel Christmas Classic title and defeated Radford on Senior Night.

This year, both of Liberty's Friday games have been exciting contests, decided in the final seconds. The Lady Flames dropped their season opener to VCU on Nov. 14 by a 59-57 score, when the Rams' Radoslava Bachvarova made three free throws with 2.1 seconds left. Last Friday, Liberty picked up its first win of 2008-09, when Megan Frazee's buzzer-beating layup gave the Lady Flames a dramatic 45-44 victory over UC Riverside.

Making a Point
Sophomore Rachel McLeod enjoyed a solid performance in her first career start at the point guard spot, Nov. 14 versus VCU. She nabbed a career-high eight rebounds and dished out six assists, while committing only one turnover.

McLeod became the first Liberty point guard to record at least eight rebounds and six assists in a single contest since Daina Staugaitiene. She posted 13 boards and six assists during Liberty's Big South Championship title game win over Birmingham-Southern on March 13, 2004.

McLeod has continued her solid rebounding, grabbing five boards versus UC Riverside last Friday. Entering her sophomore season, McLeod's career high was five rebounds. So far this year, the Houston, Texas native ranks third on the Liberty roster with 5.0 rebounds per contest.

Block Party
The Lady Flames are averaging 4.3 blocked shots per game, through the first three contests of the 2008-09 season. Leading the way is redshirt freshman Avery Warley, with five rejections, for a 1.7 bpg average.

Four of Warley's blocks came during Liberty's 45-44 win over UC Riverside, marking a new career-high. Only one Lady Flame blocked four shots during a game last season, as Moriah Frazee turned away four Radford shot attempts on Feb. 6, 2008.

Sophomore Kittery Maine has also joined in on the fun. In her first appearance of the 2008-09 campaign last Saturday, the Georgia native blocked a trio of Western Carolina shots in just 10 minutes of action. The three rejections equaled Maine's career high.

A Flair for the Dramatic
Dating back to last season, three of Liberty's last five games have been decided by two points or less. The Lady Flames have won two of those tight contests, and Megan Frazee has hit the game-winning shot both times. Frazee's heroics downed Radford in the 2008 Big South Championship title contest and sank UC Riverside last Friday.

No Need to be Alarmed
Liberty is 1-2 to start the 2008-09 season. This is the sixth time in Carey Green's 10 seasons, the Lady Flames have opened the year with a 1-2 mark. On all five previous occasions, Liberty went on to win the Big South title.

The last time Liberty was 1-2 came in the 2004-05 campaign. The Lady Flames won 25 of their next 29 games to reach the "Sweet 16" of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

Tournament Success
Liberty is entered in a trio of regular-season tournaments this season, including the Preseason WNIT, the GW Thanksgiving Classic and the Hokie Hardwood Classic. The Lady Flames will also participate in the Big South Women's Basketball Championship at season's end.

Liberty is hoping to repeat its tournament success from the 2007-08 season. Last year, the Lady Flames captured three tournament titles for the first time in program history. Liberty won the National City Xavier Invitational, UNLV's Lady Rebel Christmas Classic and its 11th Big South Women's Basketball Championship. Megan Frazee was named MVP of all three events.

Coming Through in the Clutch
Two of Liberty's first three contests this season have been decided by 10 points or less, and the Lady Flames are 1-1 in close games.

The Lady Flames were 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or less during the 2007-08 campaign.

Counting Up the Votes
Liberty was listed among the "Others Receiving Votes" in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, for the third straight week, receiving one vote.

Last season, the Lady Flames regularly received votes in both national polls, but did not quite crack the Top 25. Liberty's most recent Top 25 ranking came in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll of the 2004-05 season. The Lady Flames were listed No. 21, after reaching the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament.

2008-09 Opponents in the National Rankings
Two of Liberty's 2008-09 opponents appear in the current Top 25 polls. Auburn is listed No. 15 in the AP Top 25 poll and No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll. Fellow SEC member Vanderbilt is ranked No. 17 in both polls this week.

Three other opponents are receiving votes in the national polls. Hartford (24 votes) and Coastal Carolina (4 votes) were both noted in the AP poll, while Hartford (29 votes) and North Carolina A&T (1 vote) were considered in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

First Time Since Feenstra
Redshirt freshman Avery Warley established a pair of career highs during last Friday's victory over East Tennessee State, coming up with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. In the process, she became the first Liberty to tally at least 10 rebounds and four blocks in the same contest since the final game of Katie Feenstra's brilliant Liberty career. The 6-8 Feenstra, now of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, notched 12 rebounds and four blocks versus No. 1 seed LSU in the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament, on March 26, 2005.

Finding a Way in the 40s
Remarkably, Liberty is 2-0 over the past two seasons, when scoring fewer than 50 points in a game. Most recently, the Lady Flames defeated UC Riverside by a 45-44 score, last Friday. Last season, Liberty posted a 45-38 home triumph over Richmond on Jan. 5, 2008.

Giving Gifts
Junior point guard Amber Mays will celebrate her 20th birthday on Sunday, but she has been the one providing gifts during her first three games as a Lady Flame. Mays, who made her first appearance in the starting lineup versus Western Carolina last Saturday, ranks third on the team in scoring (7.7 ppg), second in assists (2.0 apg) and second in steals (1.3 spg).