Feb. 15, 2014
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Missed opportunities, mostly in the paint and at the free throw line on the offensive end and outside the 3-point stripe on the defensive end, proved costly for the UAB men’s basketball team on Saturday night. So, instead of building on an impressive win earlier this week, the Blazers are looking to regroup following an 86-80 Conference USA loss to Tulane at Bartow Arena.
“I’m disappointed in the game,” said UAB head coach Jerod Haase, whose team beat Southern Miss, 84-60, on Thursday night. “I’m disappointed with the way that we started the game with our intensity and intelligence on the defensive end. That proved to very costly, giving up so many 3-point shots in the first half. Our inconsistency in the first half was a lot to overcome in the second half.”
Tulane, which entered the game shooting 39.3 percent from the field in 10 C-USA games, rarely missed in the first half against the Blazers (15-10 overall, 4-7 C-USA). The Green Wave (14-12, 6-5) hit 19-of-27 shots from the field in the first half, which is a crisp 70.4 percent, and connected on 8-of-12 3-pointers. Six different Tulane players hit a 3-pointer in the first half as the Green Wave stretched the advantage to as many as 18 points.
“Shots that are wide open, I tend to think that a Division I basketball player is going to make them,” Haase said, whose team was fortunate to trail just 46-38 at halftime. “There were some contested ones that went in, which was disappointing. When the ball goes in, things work a lot more efficiently for any offense.”
“We weren’t surprised because we lacked intensity on defense (in the first half),” said UAB senior Robert Williams.
Tulane didn’t stay hot from outside the 3-point stripe in the second half but the Green Wave managed to score the first six points of the second half and led 57-41 with 13 minutes left in the game. UAB hurt itself early in the half by not taking advantage of quality shots. At one point, the Blazers missed layups on five consecutive possessions.
“It’s tough,” Haase said. “We started to get a few stops on the defensive end and we missed some point-blank layups. It’s hard to make a comeback. You have to make baskets on the offensive end.”
Making free throws is also important, particularly in a game that included 57 fouls. The Blazers made 26-of-41 free throws overall with 10 misses coming in the second half.
“When we are at our best, we are an extremely tough-minded team, then we have a chance to compete in this league,” Haase said. “When we don’t have that edge, it’s tough. We have to be able to make free throws.”
The Blazers still were in striking distance late in the game. The Blazers pulled within 83-78 with 11.4 seconds left after a Denzell Watts 3-pointer from the right corner. But Tulane wrapped three free throws around a Watts layup in the final 10 seconds to pull out the win.
“We had been stressing the last couple of weeks moving up in the standings and trying to get into a decent spot when we get into the tournament,” Williams said. “Knowing that we let another opportunity get away, that is the toughest part.”
Chad Frazier led UAB with 21 points but only three of those points came in the second half. Rod Rucker had 17 points, nine rebounds and three steals, Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Watts finished with 10 points.