March 7, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- UAB junior forward Karisma Chapman now has 1,008 career points and none are more important than the two she scored with eight seconds remaining on Thursday to lift the Blazers to a 55-54 win against UCF.
After trailing for most of the second half, Chapman stepped to the free-throw line with her team down 54-53 and a first-round bye in next week’s Conference USA Tournament on the line. The Calumet City, Ill., native knocked in a pair and sealed the final regular season game for the Blazers in 2013.
UAB (18-11, 9-7 C-USA) finishes the year winners of two-straight heading into postseason play. UCF, which had a shot to reposition itself in the final standings, falls to 13-17 overall and 7-9 in C-USA action. With the win, the Blazers clinch the fourth-seed and a first-round bye in the C-USA Tournament.
“This was a great win on a very emotional night for our team,” UAB head coach Audra Smith said. “We showed a lot of fight the whole way in a game that was nip and tuck down the stretch. Now, we head to the tournament in good position and will take it one game at a time.”
In the final game for six Blazer seniors, both teams started sloppy as they combined for nine turnovers in the first three minutes. UCF was the first to claim momentum, building an early 11-3 advantage with just under 14 minutes remaining in the period.
Down eight, the Blazers went on a 7-0 run and eventually took their first lead, 14-12, off a jumper in the paint from senior guard Amber Jones.
UCF tied it on three occasions in the final 10 minutes of the opening frame, but UAB hung on to a slim 25-24 advantage at the break.
“We started way too slow tonight,” added Smith. “We just didn’t play our kind of basketball in the first few minutes and UCF took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do on the offensive end.”
Chapman began the second half with two-straight baskets to give the Blazers a 29-24 advantage – a slim margin that UAB would keep over the next three minutes of action.
UAB freshman Dy’Man Webb kept the Blazers up, 33-29, with a field goal at the 12:48 mark. That shot would be the last made bucket for UAB over the next four minutes, however, as UCF stormed ahead, using an 8-0 run to claim the 37-33 lead with 10:21 on the clock.
The Knights held that advantage until 52 seconds remaining when Jones hit a layup that put her team up 51-50. Following a 3-pointer from UCF’s Gevenia Carter, UAB’s Chelsee Black knocked in a basket before Chapman’s two free-throws sealed the 55-54 win.
UCF’s Carter finished with a game-high 23 points, while teammate Erika Jones hauled in 18 rebounds for the Knights.
Chapman led the Blazers with 20 points and went over 1,000 points in her career with a made field goal at the 6:45 mark of the second half.
The Blazers are now set for the 2013 Conference USA Tournament, which will take place on March 13-16 in Tulsa, Okla.