March 15, 2001
UAB LADY BLAZER BASKETBALL WOMEN'S NATIONAL INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT UAB VS. Florida International March 16, 7 p.m. Bartow Arena / Birmingham, Alabama
THE LADY BLAZERS The Lady Blazers are 18-10. They were 10-6 in Conference USA and tied for second in the National Division and third overall. UAB was beaten 74-56 by Cincinnati in the second round of the C-USA Tournament. The Lady Blazers earned a first round bye for finishing in the top four in the league. UAB is 12-1 in Bartow Arena this season and have won four straight at home. C-USA Tourney champ Tulane was the only team to defeat the Blazers in Bartow.
Junior forward Deanna Jackson is C-USA's Player of the year and has been named to the Associated Press's third team All-American squad and was second team by Women's Basketball Journal. She is second in the nation in scoring, averaging 25.1 points, and fifth in rebounds, with 11.8 per game. Senior guard Mia Thrash is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game. She was second team All-C-USA. Forward Natasha Thomas was named to the league's All-Freshman Team, as she comes off the bench to average 10.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Head coach Jeannie Milling is the schools all-time winningest coach with a 234-176 record in her 14th season at UAB. She has an overall record of 395-285. Milling also served as head coach at Spring Hill College and Georgia Southern. This is her fifth post-season appearance with UAB. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL The Golden Panthers are 20-9 overall. They were11-5 and finished third in the Sun Belt Conference. FIU was eliminated in the semi-finals of the conference tournament by SBC runner-up and NCAA participant Denver, 78-67. FIU beat New Orleans 98-76 in its first tournament game. The Golden Panthers were 12-3 at home and 6-5 away. They split their last eight games.
Wing player Gergana Slavtcheva is scoring 19 points and getting 6.1 rebounds per game. Forward Cormisha Cotton is scoring 12 points and gets eight rebounds per game. Mandy Shafer is averaging 10.3 points a game. Forward Cheryl Moody leads the team with 8.7 rebounds per game and scores 9.1 a contest. Point guard Ivelina Vrancheva leads the nation in assists with 6.8 per game.
Coach Cindy Russo is in her 22nd year at FIU with a record of 459-171. Overall, this is her 24th year as a head coach with a record of 499-193. She has led FIU to five NCAA Division I tournament appearances and two NWIT. This is the first WNIT appearance.
UP NEXT The winner of this game will play the winner of the Memphis-Alabama game, being played Thursday night in Tuscaloosa. The date and site of the next round is still to be determined.
POST SEASON AGAIN UAB women are in the post-season for the second straight year and the fifth time overall. Last season UAB advanced to the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet Sixteen." They also participated in the NCAA Tournament in 1994, falling to George Washington in the first round. The Lady Blazers participated in the old NWIT in Amarillo, Texas in both 1991 and 1992.
UAB POST-SEASON RECORDS 1991 NWIT (Amarillo, Texas) Indiana, L, 71-110 Northern Illinois, W, 78-71 Louisville, W 81-75
1992 NWIT (Amarillo, Texas Arkansas State, L 79-83 Florida International, L 74-95 LaSalle, W 76-71
1994 NCAA Tournament 1st Round, Washington D.C. George Washington, L 66-74
2000 NCAA Tournament 1st and 2nd Round - Eugene, Oregon Oregon, W 80-79, OT Mississippi State, W 76-70 Regionals - Portland, Oregon Rutgers, L 45-60
AGAINST FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL This is the fourth meeting between the Lady Blazers and FIU. UAB leads 2-1, having won the last meeting in 1994, 66-63 in the Lady Eagle Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss. This is the first meeting between the two teams in Birmingham. The two teams met in the NWIT in Amarillo, Texas in 1992 with FIU winning 95-74. FIU's Cindy Russo has been head coach of the Golden Panthers for each of the previous three meetings. UAB coach Jeannie Milling has coached the Lady Blazers in the last two contests.
1-22-81 UAB 110, FIU 38 in Miami, Fla. 3-27-92 FIU 95, UAB 74, NWIT in Amarillo, Texas 12-19-94 UAB 66, FIU 63 in Hattiesburg, Miss.
AGAINST THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE This is third time this season UAB has faced an opponent from the Sun Belt Conference. The Lady Blazers lost to North Texas 67-54 at the Air Force Classic and beat Middle Tennessee 76-71 in Birmingham. Both North Texas and Middle Tennessee are in the WNIT. FIU defeated North Texas 86-69 in Miami, and split with Middle Tennessee, winning 74-63 at home and falling 78-63 on the road. FIU did not play a Conference USA opponent this year.
NOT IN OVERTIME UAB has been oustcored 29-12 in its two overtime games, losing at Auburn 79-71 and at Tulane 71-62.
GLAD THEY PLAY THE SECOND HALF UAB has trailed in 12 of the last 15 games at the half and have come back to win five of the 12 games they trailed. UAB has led South Florida twice and then led Houston 36-34 in the final game. UAB won all three of the games they led at the half. Of the 121 games UAB has trailed, they have trailed by double figure margins eight times. The Lady Blazers have come back to take the lead in nine of the games. Only against Tulane, in Birmingham, at Louisville and against Cincinnati did the Lady Blazers not have a second half lead. Only against Cincinnati did the Lady Blazers not cut the score lower than the halftime margin.
JACKSON AND THOMAS, DANGEROUS DUO Junior All-America candidate Deanna Jackson and Freshman Natasha Thomas have really been double-trouble for the opponents. They scored double-doubles in the same game, four times this season. Jackson has 19 double-doubles on the season and Thomas has five. The two are combining to average 35.8. points and 18.2 rebounds a game. They have 41 double figure scoring games and 25 double figure rebounding games between them. Jackson has failed to score in double figures just once this season. Thomas has scored under eight points just once in the last 11 games.
THE HOME SEASON UAB finished the year 12-1 in Bartow Arena this season. Only National Division winner Tulane beat the Lady Blazers in Bartow, 74-67. UAB won its first eight games in Bartow and then their last four. They had a scoring margin + 12.2 at home.
THE SCORING UAB scored in the 60's in 11 of the 16 conference games, scoring in the 70's in the final two games. The Lady Blazers scored in the 60's in seven straight games prior to the Saint Louis game. They went 4-3 in those games. The Lady Blazers are 7-5 when scoring in the 60's. As for defense, UAB is 10-0 when holding the opponents to under 60 points. The Lady Blazers are 11-2 when scoring 70 or more.
THOMAS, LEADING FRESHMAN, SIXTH MAN Freshman Natasha Thomas was named to Conference USA's All-Freshman Team. She just missed scoring in double figures and getting her sixth double-double as she scored nine points and had 11 rebounds against Tulane. Thomas averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in C-USA games. She scored in double figures in seven of the last 11 games . Thomas scored in double figures eight times in 16 league games and 13 games overall.
THRASH OVER THE 1,000-POINT MARK Mia Thrash became the 17th player in UAB history to reach 1,000 points when she scored 20 against Cincinnati. Feb. 2. She finished that game off in style, converting a three-point play with 0.3 seconds left for the win. Thrash now has 1,098 points for her career, 14th on the all-time scoring list at UAB. She led the team with 19 points in the C-USA Tournament game against Cincinnati. SOME CONFERENCE NUMBERS Deanna Jackson is in the top 10 in eight of 12 C-USA statistical categories, leading the league in scoring and rebounding...Jackson's 38 points against Middle Tennessee is tied for the most points by a C-USA player this year...The Lady Blazers are third in scoring margin with a +6.0.
JACKSON ON C-USA CAREER LIST Deanna Jackson is currently fifth on C-USA's all-time scoring list. Jackson has 1,783points. She needs 36 points to move into fourth place. Jackson is second in rebounding with 958,. Jackson is tied with Tamika Whitmore of Memphis in blocked shots with 110.
NOT MANY CLOSE ONES UAB had just three games decided by three points or less and two more go into overtime. The Lady Blazers were 2-3 in those five games. They lost to DePaul on an old-fashioned three-point play with 3.2 seconds remaining. The free throw was the 61st point, for the 61-60 win. The Lady Blazers then defeated Cincinnati, 61-58, on another three-point play with 0.3 seconds remaining. The Lady Blazers won by two over Charlotte at home for the only home game decided by three-points or less.
THE STREAKS UAB won five straight games, winning the last three non-conference games and the first two league games. That matched the longest streak of last season. The Lady Blazers also had a four game streak after losing to Nevada in the opener until falling to North Texas. The longest win streak in league play was three games, late in the season. They never lost two in a row just once and never more than that.
FRONT COURT STRENGTH One of the main reasons for UAB's outstanding shooting is its strong inside game. Shaquetta Rhodes and Natasha Thomas are 2-3 in shooting percentage in C-USA. Rhodes is hitting 56.2 percent from the field and Thomas, 54 percent. Deanna Jackson is just under 50 percent, at 48. Michelle Smith has made 57.1 percent of her shots in the eight games she has played. Those four have scored 67 percent of the team's points and have 67 percent of the rebounds. For the record here is their numbers