Jan. 18, 2008
EL PASO, Texas - The UAB women's basketball team's 15-point second-half lead slipped away as the Blazers fell to UTEP, 67-64, Friday evening in the Don Haskins Center. Senior guard Crystal McFadden led UAB with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal against the Miners.
The loss is UAB's first in league play, moving to 7-10 overall and 3-1 in Conference USA. UTEP remains atop the C-USA standings with a 13-2 overall record that includes a 4-0 mark in conference play.
The first 20 minutes were a close battle, with the lead changing on 10 occasions. UTEP held as much as a four-point edge at 15:46, while UAB's largest lead of five came at the 9:33 mark. The Blazers entered halftime with a 32-31 lead after UAB junior guard Britney Jones hit a basket just one minute before the break.
UAB came out firing in the second half, going up by a game-high 15 points, 51-36, with 11:32 on the clock after a layup by senior center Christon Ingram. UTEP went on a 17-4 run that spanned the next five minutes to cut the Blazers' lead to two, 55-53.
From that point on, it was a one-possession contest for the remainder of the game. A pair of free throws at the 1:19 mark by UAB senior guard/forward Diamond Rogers put the Blazers on top by one, 64-63.
UTEP's Izabela Piekarska hit a layup with 1:01 left to put the Miners ahead by one, 65-64. A pair of missed shots on UAB's last two possessions forced the Blazers to foul. Piekarska put two free throws thru the net with four seconds remaining to give UTEP the 67-64 victory and sole possession of first place in C-USA.
"First of all, I want to say that I am very proud of the effort we gave tonight," said UAB head coach Audra Smith. "Obviously, whenever you have a 15-point lead, especially on the road, you want to hang on to that to get out of there with a road win.
"Everybody fights hard to win at home in this conference. That is what we did the last three games when we were at home, and that is what UTEP did tonight. We just have to refocus and get ready for a tough matchup with Tulane on Sunday."
UAB shot 38.8 percent overall, including 41.9 percent in the first half and 36.1 percent in the second half. The Blazers sank just 23.8 percent of their three-pointers, but made 77.8 percent of their free throws.
In addition to McFadden, two other Blazers scored in double figures, including Rogers with 13 and freshman guard Amanda Peterson with 10. Peterson flirted with a double-double with a nine boards to accompany her 10 points. Junior forward Brianna Berry tied Peterson for a team-best nine rebounds on the night.
UTEP put 39.5 percent of its shots in the basket against the Blazers, including 29.4 percent from beyond the arc and 80.0 percent from the charity stripe.
Piekarska scored 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while Natasha Lacy tallied 15 as well and a team-best seven assists for the Miners. Jareica Hughes had the only double-double of the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Blazers will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they play Tulane in New Orleans, La., with tip-off scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CT.