UAB's Big Second Half Not Enough At Memphis

Khalilah Watson had nine points to go along with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Feb. 23, 2012

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MEMPHIS -- The UAB women's basketball team scored 41 second-half points Thursday night, including 14 from LaShaunda Pratt, but could not overcome a slow start offensively. The Blazers lost to Memphis, 71-56, at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.

The teams were No. 2 and No. 3 in the Conference USA standings entering the game. Memphis (21-6, 11-3 C-USA) moved two games clear of UAB (18-8, 9-5 C-USA) for second place in the conference standings with two games to play and secured the No. 2 seed in the upcoming C-USA tournament.

The Blazers remained in third place, one game ahead of Tulane -- which also lost Thursday -- and Rice in the race for the tournament's No. 3 seed.

Pratt finished with 16 points on the night to lead UAB, while Karisma Chapman scored 14. Amber Jones and Khalilah Watson each added nine points.

Chapman connected on a 3-pointer with 1:55 to play, cutting what had been a 19-point Memphis lead at the half down to seven at 63-56. But Nicole Dickson and Jasmine Lee scored lay-ups on each of the next two Memphis possessions to thwart a potential late-game rally.

Dickson, who had a hot hand during the Tigers' fast start to the game, came up just shy of a 20-20 game with 19 points and 19 rebounds. Lee also had a double-double for Memphis with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds.

The duo helped Memphis control the glass and the lane as the Tigers held a 46-35 advantage on the boards and a 42-18 lead in the paint.

"We never gave up tonight," UAB head coach Audra Smith said. "Shots didn't fall early for us, but we hung in there and started to attack and make some things happen in the second half. We just can't give up 71 points. They got into the paint too easily and were able to get too many lay-ups against us."

UAB could never completely come back from the slow shooting start that plagued it for much of the first half. The Blazers didn't score for the first eight minutes and found themselves in a 17-point hole at 19-2 at the midway point of the opening half. Memphis, on the other hand, hit seven of its first 14 shots -- including three straight by Dickson at one point -- and turned six early UAB turnovers into 10 points.

The Blazers picked up their shooting and made a couple runs late in the half, but Memphis responded each time and extended its lead to 34-15 at the break.

UAB managed to hang around and keep the game from getting away in the second half by getting Memphis into foul trouble. The Blazers got to the free throw line 22 times in the final 20 minutes and made 17 of them. The Blazers also forced 12 second-half turnovers while committing only three.

Memphis earned a sweep of the season series with Thursday's win, having also defeated UAB earlier this year in Birmingham by a 70-59 score. The Tigers are the only team to score 70 points on the Blazers all season.

UAB will play on the road again Sunday with a trip to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a 2 p.m. CT contest against Southern Miss. The Blazers will then return to Birmingham for their final regular-season game next Thursday against league-leading UTEP.