HPU WBB Panthers and Flames Meet For Big South Title On Sunday

Posted by Press Release on March 8, 2015 at 8:23 am under College | Comments are off for this article

CONWAY, S.C. – The High Point University women’s basketball team will take on No. 1 Liberty on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the HTC Center with the Big South championship and an NCAA Tournament bid on the line.

The Panthers (20-11) and the Flames (25-6) were the top two teams in the league’s preseason poll and, as predicted, will meet with the title and a ticket to the dance as the prize.

How High Point Got Here:
The Purple & White have followed the lead of the Big South Player of the Year Stacia Robertson and the rest of the senior class in its first two games of the tournament. Robertson has averaged 20.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks while shooting 17-of-21 (81 percent) from the floor.

The rest of the senior class has helped out in a big way as the quartet has scored 95 of the Panthers’ 131 points in the tournament (73 percent). Sophomore Kaylah Keys has scored 10 points in each of the wins over Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb. The guard hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to push HPU passed the Runnin’ Bulldogs on Saturday.

The Panthers earned a 75-62 win over No. 6 Presbyterian on Thursday and won a hard-fought contest with No. 7 Gardner-Webb 56-53 on Saturday. But Sunday will present a new test for HPU, as it will be their first game of the tournament against a higher seed.

How Liberty Got Here:
The Flames burned through the regular season winning 19-of-20 conference games. However, the squad struggled in its quarterfinal matchup with No. 8 UNC Asheville before pulling out a 59-51 win. Liberty didn’t wait as long to turn it on against No. 5 Campbell and built a nine-point halftime lead to cruise to a 71-43 victory.

Redshirt-junior Ashley Rininger has been the star for the Flames. The All-Big South first teamer is averaging 15 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest in the tournament. The well-balanced Liberty lineup has had six different players score in double figures in at least one of its two games in the tournament.

The vaunted Flames defense held the Bulldogs to 37 percent shooting in the quarterfinals. It then limited the Camels to 25 percent to punch their ticket to the title game.

Panther Notes:
• The Flames have a 34-13 advantage in the all-time series including two wins this season. Liberty has won all eight meetings between the two programs in the Big South Tournament.

• High Point’s redshirt-senior forward Stacia Robertson became the second player in the program’s history to be named Big South Player of the Year. She joined Katie O’Dell who won the award in 2005-06.

• Robertson was all over the nation’s statistical leaderboard this season.
• Seventh in field goal percentage (.584)
• 13th in blocked shots (3.2/game)
• 29th in offensive rebounds (4.0/game)
• 30th in double-doubles (13)
• 35th in rebounds (10.0/game)
• 40nd in steals (2.5/game)
• 135th in scoring (16.1/game)

• Sunday’s game will feature the league’s best offense against the second best defense. The Panthers want to get up and down the court and lead the conference with 69.7 ppg. Meanwhile, Liberty allows just 57.9 ppg.

• The offense is shooting at a record pace this year (42.1 percent). The Panthers lead the Big South and are on pace to best the program record of 41.3 set during the 2010-11 season. Liberty is at the top of the Big South in shooting percentage (third, 41 percent) and defensive (second, 35 percent).

• Kaylah Keys reached the 1,000-point milestone with 10 points in the win over Presbyterian. It only took her 63 games to reach that mark.

• Stacia Robertson has scored in double figures in the last 18 games and has registered a double-double in half of those contests. While all of her outings have been spectaular, it was her 20-point, 20-rebound performance at Campbell on Feb. 14 that stands above the rest.

• Latrice Phelps has been on fire down the stretch. She is averaging 10.5 points per game over the last 11 contests and is shooting over 50 percent during that stretch.

• Lindsay Puckett is posting better than 10 points and five rebounds a night during the squad’s last 10 outings.

• Ashante Richard finished third in the Big South with 3.7 assists per game, but it is her 50 percent shooting (34-of-68) in conference play that made the offense even more dangerous.

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