Liberty will face its third Top 25 opponent of the season, Thursday at No. 13/11 Duke.
Game Day Central Page Liberty's Women's Basketball Game Notes Game Time: 7 p.m. Video Streaming Coverage: Blue Devil Network Radio Coverage: Liberty Flames Sports Network – Radio WQLU 90.9 FM The Light Play-By-Play Broadcaster: Jamie Hall Color Commentator: Joe Carmany Today's Game Liberty (3-6, 1-1 Big South) will close out the road portion of its non-conference schedule Thursday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to No. 13/11 Duke (8-2, 0-0 ACC). The Blue Devils will be the third Top 25 opponent and the second ACC foe Liberty has faced this season.
The "Starting Five" - Liberty's Top Storylines 1) Liberty, which is facing Duke for the first time since the 2004-05 season, is seeking its first-ever win over the Blue Devils, its first victory over a Top 25 opponent since 2005 and its first win over an ACC foe since 2008.
2) The Lady Flames have lost six of their last seven games and are looking to avoid their worst start through 10 games since the 2008-09 squad opened the year at 3-7. That Liberty team turned things around to finish 24-9 and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
3) Duke is the only opponent on Liberty's 2015-16 schedule which can match the Lady Flames' size. The Blue Devils boast five players 6-4 or taller, topped by the 6-6 Azura Stevens.
4) 6-4 Ashley Rininger (14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and 6-5 Katelyn Adams (7.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg) have played well for the Lady Flames this season. They combined for 22 points and 23 rebounds during Liberty's first ACC matchup of the year (NC State on Nov. 20).
5) Mickayla Sanders, who grew up approximately 40 miles away from Durham in Clayton, N.C., made her junior season debut on Saturday, after missing the season's first eight games with a hand injury. She scored a team-high 12 points versus Seton Hall. Liberty vs. Duke At a Glance Series History Series Record: Duke leads, 3-0. Current Streak: Duke has won all three previous meetings. Series Record at Duke: Duke leads, 2-0. Current Streak at Duke: Duke has won both previous meetings. Last Meeting Overall: Duke 83, Liberty 48 (Dec. 12, 2004 at Duke) Last Meeting at Duke: Same
Coaching Matchup Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green Overall Record (Seasons): 386-134 (17th Season) Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same Record vs. Duke: 0-3
Duke Head Coach: Joanne P. McCallie Overall Record (Seasons): 549-203 (24th Season) Record at Duke (Seasons): 233-55 (Ninth Season) Record vs. Liberty: 0-0
Notes and Anecdotes • Thursday's game will be the first Liberty-Duke matchup since Dec. 12, 2004. No. 3 Duke won that contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 83-48, paced by current Longwood assistant coach Wanisha Smith's 21 points. Liberty was led by Katie Feenstra (13 points and eight rebounds). Both teams advanced in the NCAA Tournament that season, with the Lady Flames reaching the Sweet 16 and the Blue Devils reaching the Elite Eight. Liberty and Duke were each eliminated by LSU at the Chattanooga Regional.
• Duke is 21-0 all-time against Big South opponents, including a 78-50 home win over Winthrop on Nov. 15.
• The Blue Devils are the only team on Liberty's 2015-16 schedule that can match the Lady Flames' size. Five Duke players stand 6-4 or taller, topped by the 6-6 Azura Stevens.
• Stevens paces the team in points (19.3 ppg), rebounds (10.0 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg). The sophomore's older sister, Da'Shena Stevens, scored 20 points for St. John's in an 81-66 victory over Liberty on Dec. 28, 2010 in College Park, Md.
• Duke is ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25 and No. 11 in the coaches poll. However, the Blue Devils are 0-2 versus Top 25 opponents this season, with losses to then No. 12/12 Texas A&M and No. 2/2 South Carolina.
• Duke is one of only 10 teams which has made more NCAA Tournament appearances during the last 19 seasons than Liberty's 16. The Blue Devils have qualified for 21 consecutive NCAA Tournaments. On This Date Liberty is 2-4 all-time when playing on Dec. 17, including 0-2 versus ACC opponents. The Lady Flames lost 81-37 at Virginia on Dec. 17, 1983 and dropped a 67-65 contest at NC State a year ago (Dec. 17, 2014).
Liberty Versus the Top 25 Liberty has recorded four victories over Top 25 opponents all-time, three of which came during the 2004-05 season. Its last win over a Top 25 foe was an 88-79 triumph over No. 16/16 DePaul in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament (March 22, 2005). That also marked the highest-ranked team Liberty has ever defeated. The Lady Flames' lone Top 25 victory in a true road game came on Dec. 4, 2004. That day, Liberty posted a 77-56 win at No. 19/17 Kansas State. Liberty is 0-2 versus Top 25 foes this season, with both setbacks coming at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas. The Lady Flames fell to No. 11/14 Ohio State, 75-65, on Nov. 27 and lost to No. 16/15 California, 77-72, on Nov. 28.
Against the ACC Thursday's game is the second of two matchups with ACC opponents Liberty has scheduled this season. The Lady Flames previously lost a 61-53 home decision to NC State on Nov. 20. The Lady Flames are seeking their first win over an ACC opponent since Dec. 30, 2008. That day, the Lady Flames notched a 45-43 victory at Virginia Tech in the championship game of the Hokie Hardwood Classic. Big South teams have picked up two victories over ACC opponents this season, including Gardner-Webb over North Carolina and Coastal Carolina over Clemson. Shaking Things Up Head Coach Carey Green has used five different starting lineups during this season's first nine games, including a different combination in each of the last four 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 after starting 28 times at Rider. Nine different Lady Flames have started at least once this season, and Ashley Rininger is the only player to start all nine games.
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. A Look Back at the Lady Flames' 92-56 Loss to Seton Hall • Seton Hall tied the Vines Center record with 14 three-pointers on its way to a dominating 92-56 victory over Liberty, Saturday afternoon.
• The 36-point defeat marked the Lady Flames' most lopsided setback in Vines Center history.
• The Lady Flames were within eight (46-38) at halftime, before being limited to 12 percent (3-of-25) shooting and 18 total points in the second half.
• Seton Hall shot 50 percent (35-of-70) for the contest, including 48.3 percent (14-of-29) from three-point range, tying the facility record of 14 made triples set by Glenville State on Dec. 10, 2011.
• Seton Hall defeated Liberty in both rebounds (42-32) and points in the paint (32-8).
• Liberty finished at a season-low 30 percent (15-of-50) from the field, despite making a season-high seven three-pointers.
• Mickayla Sanders paced Liberty with 12 points in her 2015-16 season debut.
• Candice Leatherwood connected on two triples, contributing to her career-high nine-point effort in her second career start at point guard.
It's Been a While • Liberty is looking to avoid its worst 10-game start since 2008-09. That year, the Lady Flames started 3-7 but finished 24-9 and went to the NCAA Tournament.
• 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).
Early Trends • Liberty has outscored eight of nine opponents inside the paint, with Seton Hall being the lone exception.
• The Lady Flames have outrebounded seven of their first nine opponents to start the 2015-16 season. James Madison and Seton Hall each outrebounded Liberty.
Lady Flames' Big 3 Liberty's roster features a trio of redshirt seniors standing 6-4 or taller, including 6-6 Catherine Kearney, 6-5 Katelyn Adams and 6-4 Ashley Rininger. The Lady Flames are one of nine NCAA Division I women's basketball programs featuring three players who stand 6-4 or taller, including the only such squad in the Big South.
The other eight teams with at least three 6-4 players include Baylor, Duke, Oklahoma, Oregon State, South Carolina, Texas, Utah State and West Virginia.
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