BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb will put its three-game win streak on the line Thursday night against first-place Liberty, with opening tip set for 7:00 pm in Paul Porter Arena.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (14-11, 7-5 Big South) are red hot of late, averaging 85.0 points and shooting 57.0 percent over its last three games. That includes an impressive effort at the free throw line as well (78.3 percent) and a +15.7 margin of victory.
Laquincy Rideau has supplied 17.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game during that stretch while hitting his field goals at a 55.6 percent clip. Rideau has also been strikingly efficient from the charity stripe, making 19-of-22 chances (86.4 percent).
Gardner-Webb has also been solid defensively, limiting teams to 69.3 points and a 41.7 percent effort from the floor.
The Flames (15-10, 10-2 Big South) figure to present the stiffest defensive test Gardner-Webb will see on Thursday night, however. Liberty ranks as one of the league's elite squads on that end of the floor, while also ranking among the Big South's best in three-point shooting.
Liberty has held its last nine opponents – including Gardner-Webb on January 19 – to less than 65 points. It's last three opponents – Radford, Presbyterian and Campbell – have failed ot reach 55 points.
That stifling approach has helped the Flames rise to No. 12 nationally in scoring defense (62.5 ppg).
Ryan Kemrite and John Dawson each scored 20 points in Liberty's 65-62 win over Gardner-Webb in January, and Kemrite (13.7 ppg) continues to pace the Flames in scoring. Dawson (10.3 ppg) and Lovell Cabill (11.3 ppg) each average in double figures against Big South foes.
Liberty has won eight of its last nine – and four in a row – dating back to early January. It's lone loss during that stretch came at home to Winthrop – one of two teams the Flames are currently tied with atop the league standings.
Thursday's game will serve as '90s night in Paul Porter Arena, with fans encouraged to dress for the decade. For more information on Thursday's game or tickets, call GWU athletics at (704) 406-4340.