Dec. 17, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Defense proved the be the key to the game as the UAB women's basketball team held High Point to its lowest total of the season to come away with the 58-43 win on Tuesday night. The Blazers' win kept them undefeated at home this season.
"I'm really pleased with the win tonight," said head coach Randy Norton. "There was no flow to the game tonight, but the thing that stuck out to me was our defense. That was a team that was averaging 74 points a game and we held them to 43, so 31 under their average. Defense is the thing you can hang your hat on night in and night out, and when you're not scoring and when it's hard to get buckets, if you play solid defense you always give yourselves a chance to win."
UAB (7-4) put the defensive pressure on High Point (5-5), causing 26 turnovers in the game. The Blazers were able to take advantage of the opportunities, scoring 18 points off of the turnovers. Senior Ashley Grimes had a career-high six steals in the game, including two consecutive ones that she converted into fast break points.
"We rely an awful lot on Ashley (Grimes) on both ends of the floor," remarked Norton. "A lot of her points came from her defense. She did a great job on the defensive end and we always assign her to the other team's best perimeter player. She got several of those steals because she was in the gap doing exactly what we needed her to do, and she stepped in the gaps and got some layups at a crucial part of the game."
Grimes finished with 21 points, including 16 in the season half, to lead UAB. Sophomore Chelsee Black also tallied double-digits for the Blazers as she finished with 17 points on the night. Kaylah Keys scored 18 points to lead High Point.
Sophomore Brittany Winborne had a solid night on the glass. She brought down a career-high 13 rebounds, including 11 key boards in the first half, to lead UAB.
The Blazers came out strong in the second half, as Grimes took over with two consecutive steals that she took to the basket for fast break layups and then a made three-pointer on the next possession to give UAB its largest lead of 18 with 12 minutes to go in the second half.
High Point would not go away though, putting together a 9-0 run to cut the lead to nine with 9:33 remaining in the game. Black hit a key three-pointer to halt the Panthers' momentum and push UAB to a 47-34 lead with eight to go. The Blazers stayed in control for the rest of the game and help High Point scoreless for the final two minutes of the game.
In the first half, Grimes hit a three that opened a 7-0 run for the Blazers. UAB then extended its lead after a three-point play from senior Karisma Chapman to make it 10-5 at the 15:38 mark. The Blazers took their largest lead of the first, 15-5, after a three from Black with 12:36 to go.
Foul trouble caused UAB to turn to its bench late in the first half, which stepped up and kept the Blazers in front. Junior Miranda Burroughs hit a big three with 26 seconds remaining to send the Blazers into the half with a 29-19 lead. Sophomore Schenia Battle added a spark with a career-high four points over the span of a minute. Fellow sophomore Khoria Newman grabbed five boards in the first half.
"As we told our team, you're going to have nights where it's not pretty," stated Norton. "It was an ugly win, but it's a great win because we relied upon our bench tonight. We had some starters get in foul trouble in the first half, and at one point we only had one starter on the floor. I thought our bench came in and did an outstanding job; really, really proud of them for holding the rope for their teammates. As we tell them everyday, you have to be ready and be prepared, because you never know when the team is going to need you."
UAB will remain at home to host George Mason on Saturday, Dec. 21. The game is slated to tip off at 2 p.m. CT in Bartow Arena.