The UAB women’s basketball team had it’s first full weekend of conference play and went 1-1 improving their overall record to 1-2 in conference play. Their first game on Thursday ended in a heart breaking overtime loss to North Texas by a score of 59-58. Their second game ended in a heart stopping 62-61 overtime win against Rice.
UAB vs North Texas
If you would have told me at the end of the third quarter that this game would go to overtime, I honestly may have laughed. UAB, as a team, just did not look like themselves for the first three quarters. They shot no better than 38.5percent, they only hit one 3-pointer, and the defense was slow.
Through the first three quarters North Texas shot as high as 58.3 percent from the floor and at halftime they had only committed three turnovers. At the start of the fourth quarter UAB was down 45- 32 and it did not look like the UAB team that I had began to see going into the break.
However, you could see that spark starting late in the third quarter. In the fourth UAB absolutely dominated, outscoring Rice 22-9. UAB shot 66.7 percent from the field (8-of-12) and 50 percent from three (2-of-4). They also started getting some stops and turnovers, which led to some easier quick buckets.
UAB crawled all the way back to within three. I am not sure if it is the play Coach Norton drew up, but freshman guard Miyah Barnes took a three that missed, but she followed her shot, and good things happen when you play fundamentally sound basketball. Deanna Kuzmanic saved the ball in-bounds and it went right back to Miyah who again took the shot, this time sinking it.
In overtime UAB was able to hang out in front and it looked as though they would pull this one out. However, Kuzmanic got called for a foul going for a loose ball and sent North Texas to the free throw line to try to tie or win the game. They missed both and UAB got the rebound, but apparently the ref saw a foul on the rebound on Rachael Childress (really think there was not anything there, but what can you do). Of course, North Texas hit both free throws to take the lead and UAB could not get a clean shot off at the other end.
After the game, Coach Norton said it was a tough loss, “but you can’t win a game in this league if you do not play for three quarters, and we did not start playing hard until the fourth”.
Three players stood out to me this game. The first, Miyah Barnes, has been solid and continues to grow handling the ball for the Blazers. She added 15 points including the game-tying three. She has been really slicing up defenses and has been a problem for Conference USA to handle.
The second, Rachael Childress, has excelled in her starting role. She played 44 minutes in this game as a freshman. She added 13 points to go with 4 assist and 6 rebounds. She could have had more, but the rim was very unkind to her in this game. I am very surprised teams are not gluing multiple defenders to her to try to keep her from shooting.
The third, Kara Rawls, seemed to add the spark for UAB in this game as she had 15 points off of the bench and was able to lock down inside on defense.
UAB vs. Rice
I could not make it to this game so this will be short observations from what I could tell.
The number one thing is UAB played much better and played the style of basketball Coach Norton wants them to play. UAB shot the ball better from outside going 8-of-19 (42.1 percent), and they locked down on defense only allowing Rice to shoot 35.4 percent overall.
UAB again had to pull a small run and dominated the fourth quarter to send it to overtime. Statistically speaking, UAB is a dominate second half team. In the second half alone UAB has outscored their opponents 490-395 — that is a 95 point margin. While in the first half, UAB is getting outscored 440-456. It would be nice to see this team come out of the gates hot and build a lead. It seems like it takes a couple of minutes to get going, but once they do, they can be a very dominate team.
Stand Out Players
Deanna Kuzmanic- After being held scoreless against North Texas, the sophomore leader bounced back with a 10 point, 7 rebound, and 3 assist game. Because she shoots the ball so well, she has been a target for opponents and she rarely gets an open look. She is starting to work the screens well and get enough space to take some shots though, which has helped free other players up.
Rachael Childress- Again, I am mentioning her name because she has been a scoring monster for this team. She set a career high today with 18 points, including going 5-of-8 from deep. She leads the team in scoring per game and is now averaging 16 points per game in conference play. Her teammates, such as Barnes, have done a great job so far finding her when she gets open. Either teams do not scout well, or forget about her, because she has had some wide open looks from deep lately and does not miss that often.
The next home game for the women will be January 19 against FAU. If you haven’t seen this team play, you really should. They are hard working and fun to watch.