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Lady Flames Tabbed Big South Co-Favorite

October 13, 2009  Charlotte, N.C.  RSS
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Redshirt sophomore Avery Warley and the Lady Flames were tabbed co-favorites to win the 2009-10 Big South women's basketball title.

Redshirt sophomore Avery Warley and the Lady Flames were tabbed co-favorites to win the 2009-10 Big South women's basketball title.

The Liberty women's basketball team was named a co-favorite for the 2009-10 Big South Conference title, along with High Point, as voted upon by the conference's head coaches and members of the media. The Big South preseason poll results and all-conference teams were announced as part of Tuesday's 2009-10 Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon, held at the Renaissance Suites Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

The two-time defending Big South champion Lady Flames earned the most first-place votes of any conference team, nine. However, their point total of 160 came out equal to High Point's tally.

Liberty head coach Carey Green returns two starters from his 2008-09 squad, which went 24-9 and captured its 12th conference title in the last 13 seasons. Leading the way is point guard Amber Mays, the lone senior on the Lady Flames' roster. She ranked sixth in the Big South a year ago with 2.1 steals per contest and finished seventh in the conference with 3.8 assists per outing. Redshirt sophomore post player Avery Warley is the other returning starter. The 2008-09 VaSID State Rookie of the Year led the Big South in field goal percentage (.626) during her first year with the team, and also placed third in blocked shots (1.4 bpg) and fourth in rebounds (7.8 rpg).

Meanwhile, High Point features two preseason all-conference honorees, including Preseason Big South Player of the Year Jurica Hargraves and Mackenzie Maier. The Panthers, the only Big South team to defeat Liberty in 2008-09, will host the 2010 Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship for the second consecutive year. The tournament is slated for March 12-14 at the Millis Center.

Gardner-Webb nabbed the four remaining first-place votes and 147 total points, finishing third in the poll. The Bulldogs, who were the 2009 Big South Championship runners-up, boast two preseason all-conference picks of their own, Dominique Hudson and Margaret Roundtree.

Coastal Carolina tallied 101 points for fourth place, followed by a tight grouping of three teams in the fifth through seventh slots. Charleston Southern (86 points) placed fifth, with Winthrop (84) coming in sixth and Radford (80) seventh. The Highlanders' redshirt senior forward Kymesha Alston rounded out the preseason all-conference roster. UNC Asheville collected 57 points for eighth spot, and Presbyterian's 25 markers were good for ninth place.

Liberty will officially begin practice for the upcoming season Friday afternoon. The Lady Flames will then tip off their 2009-10 season schedule exactly one month from today. Winston-Salem State is scheduled to visit the Vines Center for the season opener, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

2009-10 Big South Conference Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Jurica Hargraves, Jr., G, High Point (Preseason Player of the Year)
Mackenzie Maier, Jr., F, High Point
Margaret Roundtree, Sr., F, Gardner-Webb
Dominique Hudson, Jr., G, Gardner-Webb
Kymesha Alston, R-Sr., F, Radford

2009-10 Big South Conference Preseason Poll (First-Place Votes) - Total Points
1T) Liberty (9 first-place votes) – 160 points

1T) High Point (7) – 160
3) Gardner-Webb (4) – 147
4) Coastal Carolina – 101
5) Charleston Southern – 86
6) Winthrop – 84
7) Radford – 80
8) UNC Asheville – 57
9) Presbyterian – 25