Lady Flames' Feenstra wins 2nd straight tourney MVP

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Maybe the Big South tournament should be renamed the Lady Flames Invitational.

Liberty beat North Carolina-Asheville 88-41 on Saturday to claim a record ninth consecutive Big South Conference title and an automatic NCAA bid. The 47-point margin of victory also set a tournament record.

The Lady Flames, who dropped two of their first three games to open the season, finished 24-6.

"Sometimes a team matures over the course of a season," said Liberty coach Carey Green, who is now 18-0 in the league tournament. "We were very fortunate to have five senior leaders this year."

One of those seniors, 6-foot-9 Katie Feenstra, scored 19 points and won her second consecutive tournament MVP honor. She joined former Liberty standouts Elena Kisseleva and Sarah Wilkerson as the only players to make the all-tournament team four times.

Feenstra also had 10 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season. Daina Staugaitiene added 16 points.

"We were going to let Feenstra get her (points) and limit the others," N.C.-Asheville coach Betsy Blose said. "You can't let others go off when you play them, and they did that tonight."

Stacy Shepard led the Bulldogs (18-12) with eight.

N.C.-Asheville kept it close early, but top-seeded Liberty closed the first half with a 16-10 run to take a 36-22 lead at the break. Liberty used a 14-3 run to start the second half.

"I think our team came and established themselves in the first half," Green said. "They continued that in the second half. Overall, it was a great team effort, and that was reflected by everyone scoring."

The Lady Flames shot 51 percent while the Bulldogs shot just 29 percent. They also had a 52-26 advantage in rebounding, including 25 on the offensive end.

"Liberty is a great team," Blose said. "They showed us today why they are champions. We picked a bad day not to play well."