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Defensive pressure key in Women’s Basketball season opening victory
For head coach Audra Smith, winning is not just a treat, it’s an imperative, and after three consecutive winning seasons, the UAB Women’s basketball team opened the 2012-2013 season with a decisive 72-54 win against Austin Peay Friday 11/9/12 at Bartow Arena.
The Lady Blazers wrapped up a successful exhibition season with a pair of victories against Brewton-Parker ( 10/28) where they crushed the Barons 75-29 as well as racked up a win against UAH (11/5) 74-35. The Blazers held both teams to under 30-percent shooting from the field playing stiff defense and forcing numerous turnovers. Friday’s game continued this trend and marked the 13th time the Lady Blazers and Lady Governors have met, with UAB besting Austin Peay 10-3 in the series. Last year the two teams met for one of the lowest scoring games of the season with the Blazers barely squeaking by with a four point win in a game that ended 49-45.
UAB was able to get off to a faster start this time around racking up 33 points in the first half with 18 of those points being scored in the first 11 minutes of the game. The Blazers defense held Austin Peay to 23 points in the first half and forced 10 turnovers which showed that last year’s strong defensive effort was no fluke.
Smith commented after the game, “I was very pleased on the effort my women gave today, I think we a great job on the defensive on rattling Austin Peay and trying to get them out of their offensive set. I was proud of effort, I was especially proud of our freshmen, especially Kayla Anderson who stepped up offensively, and Micahealea Kleist as well it has been a long time since we had two post players lead us in scoring. Then I am also proud of the way we just played together we had an opportunity to build a substantial lead and get everyone a lot of quality playing time.”
The UAB Women’s basketball team set both a school and Conference USA record for scoring defense in 2010 when they averaged 55.3 points allowed per game and beat that record the following year by allowing only 49.1 points per game, ranking the Blazer defense third in the nation behind Connecticut and Hampton.
As the second half of Friday’s contest started, the Blazers wasted no time hammering the point home that this was their game. Austin Peay never really mounted a comeback, and in fact, the Blazers forced another 19 turnovers in the second half as they added 39 points to their score securing the first win of the season.
Senior Michealea Kleist led the Blazers in scoring Friday with 14 points. Smith was pleased with the play of the senior saying, “[Kleist] comes to us from a JC and last year was like an adjustment period and a big learning curve. The way she has grown from this year to last year has been a complete 180 she stepped outside of her shell she is leading more she has become a very consistent scorer for us. Her play has stepped up tremendously and it is really going to add to our depth.”
Kleist was followed closely by freshman Kayla Anderson who scored 8 of her 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. Amber Jones and Karisma Chapman were also in double digits with 12 and 11 points scored respectively.
The Blazers do have room for improvement, Smith saying, “We just have to do a much better job holding on to the basketball. It is concerning having 20 turnovers against a team that doesn’t even press… It is something that we can correct.”
The Lady Blazers will hit the road this week traveling first to Huntsville, Ala. as they face Alabama A&M Monday, followed by a stop in Nashville, Tenn. Thursday at 7 p.m. to face Vanderbilt.