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Lady Flames Claim 11th Big South Title

March 16, 2008  Asheville, N.C.  RSS
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Liberty celebrates its 2008 Big South Women's Basketball Championship, Sunday at the Justice Center.

Liberty celebrates its 2008 Big South Women's Basketball Championship, Sunday at the Justice Center.

Liberty junior Megan Frazee scored 20 second-half points during Sunday afternoon's Advance Auto Parts Big South Women's Basketball Championship title game against Radford at the Justice Center, but none were bigger than the two she scored on a flip over her head from close range with 0.3 seconds left. Frazee's hoop gave the Lady Flames a thrilling, 66-65 victory over Radford and their 11th Big South Championship crown in the last 12 seasons.

Frazee, named tournament MVP, paced all players in both points (26) and rebounds (12). Her efforts helped Liberty erase an 11-point second-half deficit and improve to 28-3, matching the program and Big South record for victories in a season. She was joined on the all-tournament team by sister Molly Frazee, who tossed in 11 points and six boards on Sunday.

The Lady Flames advance to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament, with a first-round match-up on either Saturday or Sunday. Liberty will learn its destination and opening-round opponent Monday evening at 7 p.m., when the selection show airs on ESPN.

Radford will head to the WNIT tournament with a 23-11 record, after claiming the Big South runner-up trophy for the second-straight season. The Highlanders fell despite an 18-foot jumper by Taleia Moton with 29.1 seconds left, which had lifted Radford to a 65-64 lead.

Moton, who notched 12 points, and Kelli Darden, who posted 21 points and nine rebounds, were the Highlanders' all-tournament representatives. High Point freshman Jurica Hargraves rounded out the all-tournament roster.

Frazee's game-winner wrapped up a frenetic final minute of action. Molly Frazee gave Liberty a 64-63 lead by splitting a pair of free throws at the 50-second mark. Moton reclaimed the advantage for Radford with her perimeter jumper, on the Highlanders' ensuing possession.

Then, Liberty got its final shot to win the game with 3.6 seconds left and possession under its basket. Allyson Fasnacht bounced the inbounds pass to Frazee, who dribbled, spun into the lane and shot the ball with one hand. The attempt hung on the rim briefly before dropping through the net. Radford was unable to get off a shot during the remaining 0.3 seconds.

The lead changed hands five times during the first eight minutes of the game, as Liberty's Molly Frazee and Radford's Darden exchanged hoops. Frazee scored eight of the Lady Flames' first 10 points, while Darden tallied six of her team's first nine markers.

Radford, appearing in the Big South Championship title game for the second-straight year, put together the afternoon's first sustained run. Consecutive three-pointers by Vandy Pullen and Davida Dodson sparked an 11-2 surge. Denay Wood split a pair of free throws at the 7:01 mark, lifting her team to a 22-14 advantage.

Liberty cut its deficit to three on two occasions, before Radford closed out the half with another burst. The Highlanders recorded eight of the stanza's last 10 points, taking their largest lead of the half into the locker room, 32-23. Johnette Walker closed out the run by becoming the fourth different Radford player to sink a first-half three-pointer, doing so with 53 seconds remaining.

The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle, 23-16, before the break and made all eight of their foul shot attempts. However, Liberty, which had shot over 59 percent during Saturday's semifinal win over High Point, made only seven-of-29 field goals (24.1 percent) during the opening 20 minutes. As a result, the Lady Flames' halftime deficit tied their second largest of the season.

Molly and Megan Frazee combined for 16 of Liberty's 23 points during the first half, with Molly tallying 10 markers and Megan adding six and five boards.

Darden led all players in both points (13) and rebounds (6), prior to the intermission.
Radford's cushion reached double figures for the first time, just 18 seconds into the second half, when Darden's two charity tosses boosted the Highlander lead to 34-23.

The Lady Flames then tightened their defensive pressure, limiting Radford to a single made field goal during the first eight minutes of the half. Liberty was able to craft a 15-5 run during the span, pulling to within one, 39-38, on Megan Frazee's fast break layup off a Rachel Hammond steal at 13:25. Frazee provided nine of the Lady Flames' points during the surge.

Back-to-back three-point plays by Liberty senior guards Courtney Watkins and Allyson Fasnacht gave the Lady Flames their first lead since 12-11. Fasnacht's conversion, coming at 11:01, put Liberty on top, 47-44.

Radford bounced back to regain the edge with six-consecutive markers. A Vandy Pullen layup with 8:06 left in the game made the Highlanders' lead 54-51.

Liberty answered with four-straight points of its own, briefly reclaiming the edge at 55-54 when Fasnacht canned a layup at 7:33.

Radford then scored five points in succession, the last four of which came from Wood, on a three-pointer and a free throw. Her foul shot with 4:28 remaining on the second-half clock lifted the Highlanders to a 59-55 advantage.

Radford led by six before Liberty knotted the score at 63-all on three-pointers by Megan Frazee and Watkins on consecutive trips to the offensive end. The stage was then set for the wild finish at the Justice Center, one which finished in an opposite manner to the teams' meeting in the 2007 Big South Championship semifinal round. In that contest, Darden banked in the winning shot as time expired, lifting Radford to a 57-55, come-from-behind victory.

The Lady Flames connected on 51.6 percent (16-of-31) of their second-half field goal attempts, pulling their game total up to 38.3 percent. Meanwhile, Radford shot only 33.3 percent (8-of-24) after the break, falling to 37.3 percent for the contest. The Highlanders were the 50th-straight opponent Liberty has held under 50 percent field goal shooting.

Liberty pulled down 39 rebounds to Radford's 31 and owned a 32-18 edge in points in the paint on the afternoon. The Lady Flames also shot 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the charity stripe.

Frazee scored 26 or more points for the fifth time in six career meetings with Radford. She totaled 20 points and six of her 12 boards after halftime.

Watkins had a memorable afternoon, breaking the Liberty and Big South records for career games played, with her 126th-consecutive appearance. All 16 of her points came after halftime, including a trio of three-pointers. She fell a single tally shy of her career-high scoring effort.

Molly Frazee reached double figures as well, notching 11 points and six caroms. Fasnacht added nine points and seven assists.

In addition to Darden and Moton, Vandy Pullen also scored in double digits for the Highlanders. She ended with 10 points.

Sunday's title game will be re-aired on CSN Mid-Atlantic Monday at 11:30 a.m.

Big South Championship All-Tournament Team
Megan Frazee, Liberty (MVP)
Molly Frazee, Liberty

Kelli Darden, Radford
Taleia Moton, Radford
Jurica Hargraves, High Point