Jan. 20, 2013
EL PASO, Texas. - UTEP hit three-straight from behind the arc coming out of halftime and built as much as a 12-point advantage in the second half before the UAB women's basketball team stormed back for a thrilling 61-57 victory on Sunday at the Don Haskins Center.
"We never gave up," UAB head coach Audra Smith said. "UTEP is a great team and I knew coming out of the half that it was going to be a dogfight. Our team kept fighting, kept penetrating and kept believing that they could win."
UTEP, who drops to 14-2 overall and 2-1 in C-USA action, saw its nine-game win streak snapped as UAB (12-4, 3-0 C-USA) became the first team to beat the Miners at home this season, breaking UTEP's 10-0 record in El Paso, Texas.
The Blazers committed a school single-game low six turnovers in the game. That mark was also the second-fewest in a single contest in Conference USA history.
"Getting a conference win on the road is big time," added Smith. "To do it in a venue like this really says a lot about our team and how we have improved over the last few weeks."
In a first half marked by runs, UAB used a strong performance from the 3-point line to claim the 30-24 halftime advantage.
With UTEP playing mostly a zone defense through the first 20 minutes, the Blazers got great production from freshman Chelsee Black and junior Karisma Chapman, who each knocked down two treys to help UAB's cause, but the Blazers would need more down the stretch.
The Miners, who were 5-0 on the year when down at the break coming into Sunday's game, came out on fire in the final period, hitting three-straight 3-pointers to quickly take the lead, 33-30, with 18:27 remaining.
In fact, UTEP hit its first five from behind the arc as Kayla Thornton made two in the first six minutes to eventually extend her team's advantage to as much as 12 (46-34) with just under 13 minutes to go.
UAB responded to the Miners' second-half surge with one of its own - this time a 14-3 run that catapulted the Blazers back in the game. Junior Ashley Grimes, who teamed with Chapman for a UAB game-high 15 points on the day, hit two 3-pointers in that stretch, including one as time expired on the shot clock, to keep her team in the contest.
"Ashley Grimes once again hit some big shots, which without a doubt got us back in the game" said Smith. "I also want to commend Amber Jones and Chelsee Black, who we had to take out because of UTEP `s size. I think their attitude and willingness to help this team win really says a lot about our program right now."
Coach Smith's decision to go bigger paid off as freshmen Kayla Anderson and Brittany Winborne combined for six rebounds in 27 minutes of action - much needed as the teams swapped leads on four different occasions down the stretch.
UAB fought off every Miner rally in the final 10 minutes, however, as Grimes iced the game, making two free-throws with eight seconds remaining to give the Blazers the 61-57 victory.
UAB, which moves to 3-0 in conference play for the second-straight year, picked up the win despite being outrebounded, 57-33, including a 24-5 mark on the offensive glass.
The difference maker for the Blazers was a season-low six turnovers compared to 16 assists on the day.
UAB now plays host to Memphis on Thursday inside Bartow Arena. Opening tip for that contest is slated for 7 p.m. CT.