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WBB Game Day Central: Lafayette

November 19, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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LaKendra Washington scored a career-high 21 points at Lafayette last season, in just her fifth game as a Lady Flame.

LaKendra Washington scored a career-high 21 points at Lafayette last season, in just her fifth game as a Lady Flame.

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The Game

Liberty (1-2, 0-0 Big South) will conclude a quick two-game homestand with a Saturday matinee against Lafayette (1-1, 0-0 Patriot) at the Vines Center. Tip-off is slated for noon for the second meeting between the two squads in as many years. The Lady Flames posted a 90-55 win at Lafayette on Nov. 28, 2009, led by LaKendra Washington's career-high 21 points.

Last Time Out
The Lady Flames picked up their first win of the 2010-11 season in impressive fashion, Tuesday night at the Vines Center. Liberty defeated Virginia Union, 71-19, equaling the Vines Center record for fewest points allowed.

A Look Ahead
Liberty will tip off a challenging two-game Texas road trip Monday at 8 p.m., when the Lady Flames play at No. 8 Texas A&M. It will be Liberty's first-ever matchup against the Aggies, the reigning Big 12 Tournament champions.

Lady Flames On TV
Saturday's game will be the first of Liberty's nine home games televised on the Flames Sports Network this season. Ray Jones (play-by-play) and former Lady Flames assistant coach Kelley Deyo (color) will provide the commentary.

The telecast will also be video streamed via the Big South Network, for a small fee.

Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, in his 17th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will handle the courtside play-by-play duties for all games.

Scouting Lafayette
The Lafayette Leopards, under the direction of first-year head coach Dianne Nolan, return all five starters from last year's team, which finished 6-23. In the preseason conference poll, Lafayette was picked to tie Colgate for sixth place in the Patriot League.

The Leopards have opened the year with a pair of close games. They won their season opener over Bryant by an 84-80 count in overtime on Sunday. Lafayette then dropped a 64-59 road contest at Long Island on Wednesday.

LaKeisha Wright, a 5-11 senior guard/forward, was a second-team All-Patriot League selection last year and leads the team with 14.0 ppg this season. She needs just 16 tallies to reach 1,000 for her career.

Nolan's squad has also gotten strong production from the bench. Danielle Fiacco, a 6-7 freshman, paces the team in both rebounds (8.5 rpg) and blocks (2.0 bpg).

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 12th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to 10 Big South titles. A five-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 265-85 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.757) ranked 10th all-time among NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset. He is 1-0 against Lafayette during his coaching career.

Dianne Nolan is just 1-1 at Lafayette, but owns a 518-417 career record in 34 total years as a collegiate head coach. She spent three seasons as an assistant at Yale, before becoming the Leopards' coach during the offseason. Nolan also served as Fairfield's head coach for 28 seasons, leading the Stags to four NCAA Tournament appearances. Her other five years as a head coach came at St. Francis (N.Y.), from 1974-79.

Liberty-Lafayette Series Notes
Liberty is 1-0 all-time against Lafayette, taking a 90-55 decision at the Kirby Sports Center on Nov. 28, 2009. LaKendra Washington scored a career-high 21 points to pace four Lady Flames in double figures. Avery Warley added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Lafayette's Lauren Jackson led all players with 22 points. Her career-high output marked the most points scored by any player against Liberty during the entire 2009-10 regular season.

Liberty Versus the Patriot League
Liberty is 7-8 versus the current members of the Patriot League, including a 4-4 record against American, a 1-0 mark against Lafayette and a 2-4 ledger versus Navy.

The Lady Flames won both of their contests against Patriot League foes last year. In addition to their 90-55 triumph at Lafayette, Liberty also claimed a 55-43 win at Navy on Nov. 21, 2009, in the championship game of the Navy Classic. Led by Devon Brown's 19 points, 11 rebounds and five steals, the Lady Flames successfully came back from a 16-point first-half deficit.

American was the most recent Patriot League squad to visit the Vines Center. The Lady Flames defeated the Eagles, 73-42, on Jan. 2, 2007.

Dominating Defense
Liberty tied the Vines Center record and nearly set a program record for fewest points allowed during Tuesday's home opener against Virginia Union. The Panthers managed only 19 points, on 14.3 percent field goal shooting. Valley Forge also tallied 19 points against Liberty in a 104-19 setback on Jan. 14, 1995. The Lady Flames' school record of 18 points allowed was set last season, at Winthrop on Feb. 15, 2010.

Liberty is yielding only 36.0 ppg through its first three contests, and no opposing team has scored more than 50 points against the Lady Flames yet this year.

Bunches of Boards
The Lady Flames, who led the nation in rebound margin last season, enjoyed their first truly dominating rebounding performance during Tuesday's game versus Virginia Union. Liberty posted a +33 rebound margin, corralling 55 boards to the Panthers' 22. It was the Lady Flames' largest rebound margin since a +35 mark versus Longwood on Jan. 12, 2010 at the Vines Center.

Liberty's rebound margin now stands at a conference-leading +15.7 through three games.

No Place Like Home
Liberty is now 10-2 in home openers under Carey Green, after its 71-19 win over Virginia Union on Tuesday. Nine of Liberty's 10 home-opening victories under Green have come by 19 points or more.

Turning Up the Heat in the Furnace
The 2010-11 campaign is the 19th season the Liberty women's basketball team has called the Vines Center its full-time home. The "Furnace" has served as a favorable venue for the Lady Flames over the years. Liberty is 202-53 (.792) all-time at the Vines Center, including 13-2 last season and 1-0 to start the 2010-11 home slate.

The Lady Flames are 110-11 (.909) in their last 121 home games, dating back to the 2001-02 season. This year, Liberty will play 11 contests inside the Vines Center.

Nifty in November
Liberty is 64-39 all-time during the month of November, and the Lady Flames have gone 29-21 during the calendar year's 11th month with Carey Green as head coach. Last season, the Lady Flames went 5-0 in November. The perfect month was highlighted by winning the Navy Classic championship and also included a win at Lafayette.

This year, Liberty has seven November games on the schedule, including road tilts at Top 10 teams Texas A&M (11/22) and Baylor (11/26). The Lady Flames are 1-2 to start the month.

Tough Time in Tight Games
Liberty lost two close games at the Sheraton Raleigh Wolfpack Invitational, falling by a 40-35 score to Creighton and dropping a 49-46 contest to College of Charleston. The Lady Flames only had four games decided by five points or fewer last season, going 2-2 in close contests. Most notably, Liberty won the 2010 Big South Championship title game by two points (70-68) over Gardner-Webb.

Both of Lafayette's games this season have been nailbiters. The Leopards edged Bryant in overtime by four points (84-80) and were defeated by five markers (64-59) against Long Island.

A Feast of Firsts
A couple Liberty players experienced notable "firsts" against Virginia Union on Tuesday.

-- Kittery Maine made her long-awaited return to the court, after missing the 2009-10 season due to an ACL injury. She posted two points, three rebounds and one assist in her first appearance since March 22, 2009.

-- Jasmine Gardner also scored her first four points as a Lady Flame.

Welcome Back
Only one player, senior point guard Amber Mays, graduated from the 2009-10 Liberty team. As a result, the Lady Flames return 87.5 percent of their scoring and 95.7 percent of their rebounding from a year ago.

Welcome Back, Part 2
Both redshirt sophomore guard/forward Brittany Campbell and redshirt junior forward/center Kittery Maine missed the entire 2009-10 campaign due to knee injuries. Campbell had not appeared in a game since Dec. 2, 2008 at James Madison, before checking in during the second half of the Nov. 12 game against Creighton.

Meanwhile, Maine's most recent contest was March 22, 2009, Liberty's NCAA Tournament first-round game versus Louisville, before she played against Virginia Union on Tuesday.

Liberty Versus Non-Conference Opposition
After its 1-2 start to the 2010-11 campaign, Liberty's all-time non-conference record is now 277-299. The Lady Flames were 6-1 against non-conference opposition at the Vines Center in 2009-10.

Liberty's best-ever season against non-conference foes came in 1997-98, when the Lady Flames went 14-1 outside the Big South. Liberty's lone non-conference setback that season came to eventual national champion Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Topping Teammates
Redshirt junior Avery Warley ranks No. 32 in program history with 660 career points. If she has a big game Saturday, she could pass Rachel Hammond (663 points), Courtney Watkins (669) and Allyson Fasnacht (672) on Liberty's all-time list.

Warley, Hammond, Watkins and Fasnacht were all teammates on Liberty's 2007-08 squad, which finished 28-4. Warley redshirted the season, before beginning her collegiate playing career in 2008-09.

Antic At It Again
Jelena Antic posted some notable statistics versus Virginia Union, despite playing only 21 minutes. Her career-high four three-pointers were the most by a Lady Flame since Jan. 31, 2009, when Rachel Hammond drained five triples against High Point.

The sophomore also came up with a career-best five steals. It was the first time a Liberty player recorded four three-pointers and four steals in the same game since Dec. 4, 2004, when Kristal Tharp accomplished the feat at Kansas State.

Wanted for Theft
Last season, Liberty ranked No. 14 nationally in steals per game (11.4 spg) and tied the program record with 377 steals.

The Lady Flames have also been active on the defensive end during the first three games of the 2010-11 campaign, averaging 14.3 steals per contest. Jelena Antic has led the way with 11 thefts thus far.