UAB shot the lights out Saturday afternoon in front of former Blazers for alumni day. Rachael Childress and Deanna Kuzmanic were a combined 8-of-17 (47 percent) from long range. Add in Janeka Williams perfect 5-of-5 from the field, and you have a good offensive formula as all starters scored in double figures this game. Keonna Farmer also deserves recognition as she recorded another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds (four of those were big offensive boards).
The first quarter seemed like this game was going to go as other women’s games have gone this season. Three of the four conference losses have come on one possession games. At the first quarter media time out, UAB had a one point lead with each team going back-and-forth. UAB opened up a small lead by the end of the quarter.
In the second, UAB had a 10 point lead only to have it wiped away. However, you cannot leave Kuzmanic wide open, and UAB made FIU pay. The Blazers went on a mini run at the end of the half to take a seven point lead into the locker room.
UAB finally saw the lead stretch in the third to as many as 22, and the Blazers would never look back after this. UAB finished the game giving some playing time to players who have not been able to see the game much. I am still convinced, in the next few years, that UAB’s interior combination of Bailee Wolfe, Katelynn Thomas, and Angela Vendrell will cause Conference USA fits. In the limited playing time they saw together today, FIU looked very timid going inside against the length that these three present. They will also be able to match-up well against some of the bigger teams in conference.
The young guards of UAB have become very evident in conference play, and they have developed over this season. One of the most important is the young floor general, Miyah Barnes. She hit two circus shots today that I have no clue how physics worked in them. She also banked a three off of the side of the backboard (hope she called it). In conference play, she has greatly improved her shooting, which is helping to open up shots for Kuzmanic and Childress. With her shooting the ball so well (50 percent in conference play) it gives UAB three deadly options from outside.
The combination of Kuzmanic, Childress, and Barnes is shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range in conference play. Also important to Barnes’s game is the dribble penetration. This can be indicated by the fact she has taken the most free throws on the team by seven over forward Kara Rawls.
During halftime UAB honored some 40-plus returning alumni, including one of my favorite guards I have gotten to watch, Chelsee Black. But the big draw was the retirement of Deanna Jackson’s number 23 jersey. Jackson holds three career records at UAB and is second in four other areas. She is also the only UAB woman to be drafted to the WNBA, which occurred back in 2002.
UAB returns home on February 2 to host UTEP (I know it’s women, but I will throw a fire Tim Floyd in here).