Nov. 14, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The UAB women's basketball team got its first win of the season Wednesday evening by defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini, 69-56, at Assembly Hall. The Blazers had a trio of players in double figures, led by senior guard Crystal McFadden with 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
UAB improves to 1-1 on the year and gets a win over a Big Ten Conference team for just the second time in school history. After going 2-0 to start the season, Illinois falls to 2-1 overall.
The only other time the Blazers have earned a win over a Big Ten school was Dec. 6, 1987 when they topped Wisconsin, 86-60, in Tallahassee, Fla.
"I am so proud of this team," said UAB head coach Audra Smith. "They gave such a great effort tonight and never gave up. They left it all on the floor. It was great to see them rebound like this after last Friday's loss at Vanderbilt."
After McFadden hit the first shot of the game, UAB fell behind by as much as 10 in the first half. Some balanced scoring from the Blazers helped them chip away at the deficit, going into halftime down five, 29-24.
At the break, McFadden had a game-high 12 points for UAB, followed by senior Diamond Rogers with four, senior LaKitha Murray and sophomore Fatiha Salaam with three each and junior Britney Jones with two.
Jenna Smith led Illinois at the half with eight points and Lori Bjork and Rebecca Harris tallied six a piece.
UAB started the second half with an 11-3 run to take a 35-32 lead over Illinois. The Fighting Illini regained the lead, 38-37, at the 11:01 mark on a free throw by Danyel Crutcher.
A free throw by UAB senior Christon Ingram
at 10:42 tied the game at 38-all. A layup by Jones gave the Blazers the lead again, 40-38, with 10:05 remaining in the game. UAB would not relinquish the lead again, going up by as much as 13 when a pair of McFadden free throws made the final score 69-56 in favor of the Blazers.
Overall, UAB shot 45.8 percent for the game, including 56.5 percent in the second half. The Blazers also went 5-of-11 from three-point range and 20-of-25 in free throws.
McFadden's 25 points came on 8-of-10 shooting and a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. McFadden also added five rebounds and one steal on the night.
Jones, who is a Chicago, Ill. native and returned to her home state for the first time in her collegiate career, shot 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line for 16 points. Jones also tied her career high in assists and steals with six each.
Rogers was the third Blazer in double-digits with 14 points, while also contributing six boards, three assists and one steal.
Illinois' 56 points came on 36.0 percent shooting that included 31.0 percent in the first half and 42.9 percent in the second half. The Fighting Illini were 5-of-20 from beyond the arc and 15-of-21 from the charity stripe.
Crutcher hit 7-of-9 from the free throw line to lead her to a team-high 13 points for Illinois. Smith added 12 to the Fighting Illini's total on 5-of-9 shooting. Crutcher and Smith also grabbed a team-best seven boards each.
"We have been working on our defense a lot," said Smith. "After last week, we knew we had to improve our defense and get some stops. This team really stepped up to the challenge and did what we asked of them to get this win."
The Blazers' next outing will be Saturday at Auburn. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.