UAB Falls To UTEP, 85-76, In C-USA Opener



Jan. 8, 2014

Box Score

By: Steve Irvine,

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UAB women's basketball head coach Randy Norton was pleased with some of the things he saw at Bartow Arena on Wednesday night despite his team suffering an 85-76 loss to Conference USA power  UTEP in the conference opener for both teams.

He commended the play of senior guard Karisma Chapman and sophomore point guard Chelsee Black, who combined for 52 points, and complimented the play of sophomore forwards Kayla Anderson and Khoria Newman. He was proud of his team for fighting back from an 18-point second-half deficit to make things interesting at the end but also wanted to make sure his team learned an important lesson in the loss to a UTEP team that improved to 12-2.

"Like I told our girls in the locker room, to beat teams like UTEP, the teams that are at the top of the league, we've got to have everybody ready to go," said Norton, whose team fell to 8-5 overall. "We're not at that point where we can have one or two people that we're counting on have off games. We need everybody."

The Blazers received strong play from Anderson, a 6-foot-1 Hoover High product, who had nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots against the physical and tall UTEP front court. Newman had a career-high eight points and two assists in 25 minutes.

However, for UAB to win the Blazers count on the scoring of Chapman, Black and senior guard Ashley Grimes. On Wednesday, Chapman was 10-of-17 from the field, including a 3-pointer and 5-of-5 from the line to tie Black with a game-high 26 points. Chapman also had 10 rebounds, three assists, four blocked shots and a steal. Black was 9-of-16 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and added four rebounds, four assists and two steals. But Grimes, who came in averaging 16.7 points per game, managed just four points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. 



Yet the Blazers were still in striking distance at the end.

"We can beat a team like UTEP, I really believe that with all of my heart and I'm really proud of the way that my kids battled and scrapped and fought the entire game," Norton said. "We could have gone under and we just kept battling back."

UAB seemingly battled to get back in the game the entire way. UTEP jumped to a 13-4 lead after six minutes but the Blazers chipped away at the lead and took a 20-19 lead with 8:04 left in the half on a fast break layup by Chapman.

UTEP responded by scoring the next 15 points before UAB was able to inch with 42-32 at halftime. The Blazers scored the first four points on the second half before UTEP guard Kelli Willingham took control. The 5-foot-6 senior hit four of her six 3-pointers over a 10-minute span to help the Miners grab a 71-53 lead with 5:22 remaining.

The Blazers refused to go quietly. Black sparked an 11-0 run with a 3-pointer and two free throws and Chapman and Newman followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the deficit to 71-64 with 3:40 remaining.

"No matter what happens, we're going to keep playing and never give up," said Black. "I think that's what we did."

UTEP stretched the lead back to 12 points before UAB came back once again. Chapman's 17-foot jumper pulled the Blazers within 78-71 with 1:00 left on the clock but UAB couldn't get any closer.

"I just feel like if we come out and do it for 40 minutes, that's a win for us," said Chapman, who played all 40 minutes.

Norton said his team needs to learn from Wednesday's game to get ready for Saturday's C-USA game at Marshall.

"In conference play, you've got to have a short memory," Norton said. "You've got to learn from your mistakes and then you got to move on and you got to get ready for the next game. I know this team will do that."

UAB will hit the road for its next two conference games. First up, the team will travel Huntington, W. Va. to take on Marshall Saturday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. ET.

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