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WBB Game Day Central: Gardner-Webb

December 31, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty redshirt freshman Devon Brown is the Big South's leading scorer, at 18.1 ppg.

Liberty redshirt freshman Devon Brown is the Big South's leading scorer, at 18.1 ppg.

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Gardner-Webb Women's Basketball Webpage

The Game
Liberty (7-3, 0-0 Big South) will open defense of its Big South Conference title Saturday at 3 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to Gardner-Webb (11-2, 0-0 Big South). The matinee at Paul Porter Arena is a rematch of the 2009 Big South Championship title game, which saw Liberty edge Gardner-Webb, 51-50.

Last Time Out
No. 21/23 Virginia used a late 8-0 run to pull away from Liberty in a back-and-forth Marriott Cavalier Classic championship game, Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers held off the Lady Flames, 63-54, after turning 30 Liberty turnovers into 35 points. Avery Warley made the all-tournament team after a 12-point, eight-rebound effort in the title game.

On Deck
Liberty will return to the Vines Center Tuesday evening for its first home game in a month. The Lady Flames will host defending MEAC champion North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m., beginning a season-long five-game homestand.

Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, celebrating his 16th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will once again be handling the courtside play-by-play duties for road games. Nick Pierce and Josh Wood will serve as the primary commentators for home contests.

Scouting Gardner-Webb
After losing its 2009-10 season opener to Houston (86-64 on Nov. 13), Gardner-Webb has won 11 of its last 12 games, with the lone setback during the stretch coming at No. 11 North Carolina (81-65 on Dec. 13). The Bulldogs, who have won seven consecutive games at Paul Porter Arena, own impressive wins over Big 10 foe Purdue (56-55 on Dec. 21) and 11-2 East Carolina (57-45 on Dec. 5).

Currently receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, Gardner-Webb features five players who are averaging between 9.1 and 11.5 ppg. Margaret Roundtree, a 6-0 senior forward, leads the way with 11.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Courtney Epps, a 5-9 junior guard, also averages 11.5 ppg. Twins Dominique and Monique Hudson, both 5-5 junior guards, post 10.9 ppg and 10.2 ppg, respectively. Sandra Vaitkute, a 6-6 redshirt junior center, adds 9.1 ppg and a team-high 6.2 rpg.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 11th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to nine Big South titles. A five-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 244-80 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.753) ranked ninth all-time among NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset. Green is 3-0 versus Gardner-Webb.

Gardner-Webb is coached by Rick Reeves, who is 334-322 in his 20th season as a collegiate head coach and 67-84 in six years with the Bulldogs. He served as Liberty's head coach from 1990-91 through 1998-99, leading the Lady Flames to a trio of Big South titles. Reeves is 0-3 against Liberty, with all three setbacks coming last season.

Liberty-Gardner-Webb Series Notes
Liberty is 3-0 all-time versus Gardner-Webb, with all three meetings coming during the 2008-09 season. Each of the teams' matchups last year carried a bit of extra significance.

The Bulldogs traveled to Lynchburg Jan. 3, 2009, for their first-ever Big South Conference game. Led by Megan Frazee's 19 points and nine rebounds, the Lady Flames dealt Gardner-Webb a 55-42 setback.

Frazee starred once again on Feb. 9, 2009, helping Liberty snap Gardner-Webb's program-record nine-game home winning streak. The eventual Big South Player of the Year tallied 31 points and 10 boards in the Lady Flames' hard-fought 58-51 triumph.

The Lady Flames and Bulldogs then met in the Big South Championship title contest, March 15, 2009 at High Point's Millis Center. Liberty came back from a 28-23 halftime deficit to claim a 51-50 win, but had to withstand Dominique Hudson's shot attempt from close range as time expired.

Big South Openers
Liberty is 13-5 in Big South openers, since joining the conference prior to the 1991-92 season. The Lady Flames have won nine Big South lid-lifters in a row and 12 of their last 13.

A Rare Rematch
Saturday's game is a rematch of the 2009 Big South Championship title contest. This is the first time since the 1998-99 season that the opening day of Big South Conference action features a rematch of the previous year's tournament championship game.

On Jan. 9, 1999, the defending conference champion Lady Flames posted a 71-56 road win at UNC Asheville. Liberty, coached by Rick Reeves, was sparked by Elena Kisseleva's 27-point effort.

New Year's Resolution
Liberty owns a 155-105 all-time record in January contests, including a 71-8 mark under head coach Carey Green. The Lady Flames have won 17 straight games in January, since a 64-62 overtime loss at High Point, Jan. 20, 2007.

Liberty is scheduled to play nine games this January, including five contests at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames currently own a 37-game home winning streak during the month of January, since a 77-72 setback versus Elon, Jan. 13, 2000.

Success on Saturday
The Lady Flames are 3-0 in Saturday contests this season, highlighted by a victory over the host Midshipmen in the Navy Classic championship game on Nov. 21. Liberty also defeated Lafayette (Nov. 28) and Glenville State (Dec. 5) by an average of 38 points in Saturday meetings.

Tar Heel State Tilts
Saturday's game at Gardner-Webb will be Liberty's third contest this season against a foe from North Carolina. The Lady Flames are 2-0 versus North Carolina opponents so far in 2009-10, claiming victories over Winston-Salem State and UNC Greensboro in the first two games of the year.

The Lady Flames will meet Gardner-Webb again on Feb. 8, at the Vines Center. Liberty is also slated to face Tar Heel State squads High Point (Jan. 30 and March 8), North Carolina A&T (Jan. 5), North Carolina Central (Feb. 4) and UNC Asheville (Jan. 18 and Feb. 27) later this season.

A Look Back
Liberty will open play in the decade of the 2010s Saturday at Gardner-Webb, after closing out the most successful decade in program history Tuesday at No. 21/23 Virginia. Here are a few of the Lady Flames' accomplishments during the 2000s.

-- Liberty went 238-75 (.760) during the decade, including a 154-14 (.917) mark against Big South Conference opponents.

-- The Lady Flames won nine Big South Conference titles and made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the "Sweet 16" in 2005.

-- Three different Lady Flames combined to win six Big South Player of the Year awards: Katie Feenstra (2003, 2004 and 2005), Megan Frazee (2008 and 2009) and Sharon Wilkerson (2000).

-- Feenstra and Frazee became Liberty's first two WNBA players in program history.

A Challenging Slate
Gardner-Webb enters Saturday's game with an 11-2 record. The Bulldogs are Liberty's 10th opponent in the season's first 11 contests which has boasted a record of .500 or better at the time of the matchup.

The Lady Flames have also faced two teams (No. 21/23 Virginia and No. 25 James Madison) currently ranked in the Top 25.

On the Road with Green
The Lady Flames have been successful in Big South regular-season road games under head coach Carey Green, going 62-8 (.886) over the past 10 seasons.

70 is the Magic Number
Liberty is 4-0 this season when scoring at least 70 points in a game, extending a lengthy streak. The Lady Flames have now won 86 consecutive games when reaching the 70-point plateau offensively.

No. 24 Boston College was the most recent team to defeat Liberty when the Lady Flames tallied 70 points. The Eagles dealt the Lady Flames a 74-70 overtime loss, Dec. 6, 2003 at the Brown Classic.

Liberty has not dropped a game when scoring 70 points in regulation since Dec. 4, 2002. That day, the Lady Flames fell in a road contest at Commonwealth foe Richmond by an 88-74 count.

Big Wins, Tight Losses
Liberty has won its seven games by wide margins this season, while keeping it close in each of its three losses.

The Lady Flames' seven victories have come by an average of 27.4 points. Liberty's tightest win was a 63-52 triumph over Tulane, Nov. 20 at the Navy Classic.

Meanwhile, Liberty has lost its three games by a total of 25 points. James Madison posted the widest margin of victory over the Lady Flames, defeating Liberty 60-50, Dec. 1 at the Vines Center.

Coach Green Versus the Big South
Liberty head coach Carey Green has enjoyed considerable success versus the Big South with the Lady Flames. His teams are 154-14 against Big South opponents, including 127-13 in the regular season and 27-1 in the Big South Championship.

Green has never lost to his alma mater, Coastal Carolina (23-0), Charleston Southern (23-0), Gardner-Webb (3-0) or Presbyterian (3-0) during his time at Liberty.

All-Tournament Honors
Redshirt sophomore forward Avery Warley was voted to the all-tournament team at the Marriott Cavalier Classic, after posting 11.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg during the Lady Flames' contests against Cornell and No. 21/23 Virginia.

A Tale of Two Halves
Liberty has regularly stepped up its level of play during the second half this season. The Lady Flames are outscoring opponents by an average score of 36.9-25.3 during the final 20 minutes of play, thus far this season.

Liberty is shooting .547 from the field after halftime, while limiting opponents to a .303 second-half field goal percentage.

Tournament Tested
Liberty has played in a pair of tournaments this season, the Navy Classic (Nov. 20-21) and the Marriott Cavalier Classic (Dec. 28-29). The Lady Flames won the Navy Classic, while finishing second at this week's Marriott Cavalier Classic.

Liberty has won four regular-season tournament championships during the last three years, a list which also includes the 2008 National City Xavier Invitational, the 2008 UNLV Lady Rebel Christmas Classic and the 2009 Hokie Hardwood Classic.

Wanted for Theft
Liberty has employed an aggressive, trapping defense this season, helping the Lady Flames rank third in the Big South with 10.8 steals per contest. Liberty has tallied double-digit steals seven times in its first 10 games of the year. Leading the way is senior Amber Mays, who has accounted for 31 of the Lady Flames' 108 thefts.

Painting a Masterpiece
Last season, Liberty regularly controlled the area around the basket, outscoring 29 of 33 opponents in the "points in the paint" statistical category.

This year, the Lady Flames are off to an outstanding start in racking up "points in the paint" once again. Liberty has outscored all 10 opponents inside the paint in 2009-10, by an average margin of 26.2 points (41.8 to 15.6).

At this week's Marriott Cavalier Classic, the Lady Flames notched 80 points in the paint, as compared with only 34 for Cornell and No. 21/23 Virginia, combined.

Youth will be Served
Underclassmen have stepped up to fill the void left by the seven seniors who graduated from the 2008-09 Liberty roster. Through the first 10 games of the 2009-10 campaign, the Lady Flames' freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 73.2 percent of the team's points and 77.2 percent of Liberty's rebounds.

The Lady Flames' top five rebounders are all either freshmen or sophomores, as are four of the top five scorers.

Living Out of a Suitcase
Saturday's contest at Gardner-Webb will wrap up a month-long gap between home games for the Lady Flames. Since Liberty defeated Glenville State at the Vines Center on Dec. 5, the Lady Flames have played at Auburn, dispersed for a 10-day Christmas break and then competed in a pair of contests at the Marriott Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Va.