BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UAB junior forward Ashley Grimes scored 14 second-half points to go along with Amber Jones' 16-point total as the two lifted the Blazer women's basketball team to a 54-46 win against Houston on Sunday at Bartow Arena.
The victory gives UAB a 2-0 start in C-USA action for the second-consecutive season and moves its record to 11-4 on the year. Houston falls to 7-8 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
Grimes continues to play a pivotal role for the Blazers since head coach Audra Smith inserted her into the starting lineup on Nov. 23. The Selma, Ala., native caps off a strong week with two-straight double digit scoring efforts - a career high 21 at UCF on Thursday and Sunday's 16-point effort.
"We told our team that every game in Conference USA is a dog fight," head coach Audra Smith said. "You have to be confident and you have to be ready to play at all times. Today, we had some players that were ready to play and one of those was Ashley Grimes, who continues to be a difference maker for us."
In a game that featured 12 lead changes and four ties, UAB trailed at the half, 27-26, despite holding the Cougars scoreless for the first four minutes.
Houston used a 10-2 run from the 15:34 to 11:48 marks to take its first lead of the contest, 10-8, before a layup from UAB freshman Chelsee Black gave the Blazers a 19-16 advantage just six minutes later.
With still over four minutes remaining before the half, Houston rallied back and built as much as a five-point cushion. The Blazers kept the damage to a minimal, however, as Jones knocked in a jumper at the buzzer from 18 feet away to cut the Cougars' halftime advantage to one.
"I knew coming into this game that it was going to be a matter of exceeding the intensity that Houston was going to have," added Smith. "It seemed like every time they went on a spurt we had the answer and that is a credit to our players, who bought into and stuck with it for 40 minutes."
Just like the first half, Sunday's final period featured a battle of wills as both teams established leads before seeing them evaporate down the stretch.
UAB's first advantage of the second half came thanks to Grimes, who scored three of her team's first four baskets to erase the halftime deficit and give the Blazers a 34-29 lead with 16:23 remaining.
Those three made field goals were then followed by Houston's 8-0 run, which handed the Cougars a 37-34 advantage and 11:35 left on the clock.
From there, the two teams swapped leads on three occasions, before UAB finally stifled the Cougars in a 54-46 win.
The eight-point final was the Blazers' largest lead of the game as UAB used a 30-12 margin in the paint to outlast the visitors.
Houston did see a strong performance from center Yasmeen Thompson, who recorded 18 rebounds - a new career high for the junior from Philadelphia, Pa.
UAB now has a week off before taking on UTEP Sunday, Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. CT.