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Lady Blazers provide excitement in two games
SMU’s Keena Mays hit a jumper with just over one second remaining in triple overtime to give the Mustangs a 94-92 win over the UAB women’s basketball team on Thursday.
UAB moves to 13-8 overall and 4-4 in Conference USA action with the loss, while SMU improves to 17-4, 8-0 in C-USA play.
The two squads battled back and forth throughout the near three-hour dual as Mays hit key shots down the stretch to give the Mustangs the win. To go along with her final basket, the Kansas transfer hit a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining in the second overtime to extend the contest.
The three-overtime thriller tied the longest game in UAB history, matching the Blazers’ three-overtime win against East Carolina in the 2005-06 season.
“Tonight’s game was good for Conference USA women’s basketball,” UAB head coach Audra Smith said. “That game shows the parity in this league and proves to our team that if we show up game in and game out we can beat anybody in this conference.”
UAB senior Amber Jones and junior Ashley Grimes each tallied career highs in the loss to lead the Blazers. Jones scored 26 on the night, while Grimes posted 24 points.
“Ashley Grimes is one of the most coachable athletes I have had,” added Smith. “She doesn’t even realize her true potential, but she has the capability to become one of the top players in this league before her time is up at UAB.
“Then, what can you say about Amber Jones? She was cramping up and limping around throughout most of the overtime and she continued to fight – that is what being a true leader is all about.”
UAB was resilient the entire night, falling behind by as much as 11 in the second half, before battling back to take the game into overtime. In the first extra period, the Blazers fell behind by as many as six, before once again coming back to extend the contest.
“There are absolutely no moral victories,” said Smith. “We want to win these types of games, and if we play like we did tonight we will start to pick up wins like this down the stretch.”
UAB jumped out on the Mustangs in the first half with a 6-0 run to take a five-point advantage, 12-7, with 13:19 to go in the half.
SMU stormed back, however, using the free-throw line to take a 36-32 advantage over the Blazers into the half. The Mustangs hit 14-of-19 at the charity stripe, while the Blazers knocked in just 1-of-2.
Junior forward Karisma Chapman led UAB with 14 points in the opening period, while Grimes added eight points.
The Mustangs came out on fire in the final 20 minutes, knocking in 5-of-5 from the free-throw stripe to build as much as an 11-point advantage, 52-41, with 12:11 remaining.
From there, the Blazers went on a 13-5 run to close the gap to 54-51. UAB’s Kelsie Weynand was the catalyst on the Blazer rally with two 3-pointers to keep her team within reach down the stretch.
The two teams battled back and forth in the final minutes with SMU seemingly in control with a 64-60 advantage and just 13 seconds to go. Chapman then hit a free-throw followed by a Grimes steal and a Jones 3-pointer with 11 seconds on the clock to set up the three-overtime battle.
SMU’s Mays was the difference in the final periods, scoring 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds. In all, six Mustangs scored in double figures and three tallied double-doubles.
For the Blazers, four players had double-digit scoring performances with Weynand’s 12 and Chapman’s 18 points on the night.
The Blazers returned to Birmingham on Sunday.
UAB junior forward Ashley Grimes heated up late in the first half and never stopped on her way to a career-high 31 points, leading the Blazers’ women’s basketball team to a 62-58 win against East Carolina on Sunday.
With the victory, UAB snaps a three-game losing skid and improves to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in Conference USA action. The Pirates fall for the first time in five games and move to 16-6, 6-3 in C-USA play.
“I have said it time and time again, but Ashley Grimes is the most modest and humble player I have ever coached,” UAB head coach Audra Smith said. “She put us on her back today and rose up for us big time in a huge game for our team.”
Grimes shot 11-for-18 (61 percent) from the floor and finished with six rebounds to go with her 31 points, helping her team in a game that featured four ties and 10 lead changes.
“After the loss in Dallas (to SMU in triple overtime), we came together as a team and decided that we are going to look forward,” Smith added. “Today, we grinded it out and showed the attitude and aggression that it takes to win in this league.”
UAB started the game sluggish as East Carolina built a sizable lead, 27-17, with 5:43 left before halftime. The Blazers went six and a half minutes without a basket during that time frame, while the Pirates hit 12-of-20 (60 percent) to open the contest.
Led by Grimes, UAB heated up in the final five minutes of the opening stanza. The Selma, Ala., native scored 16 first-half points and spearheaded a 12-4 run to close the ECU advantage to 31-29 at the break.
Grimes’ strong shooting continued in the second half as she hit UAB’s first two baskets of the frame. The Blazers eventually grabbed the advantage, 43-42, with 12:33 to go in the contest – the first lead for the Green and Gold since the 11-minute mark of the opening half.
UAB’s advantage did not last long, however, as East Carolina battled back to take as much as a five-point lead, 49-44, with just under 10 minutes to go. In fact, ECU led for the next eight minutes, until Blazer senior Amber Jones hit a jumper at the 2:24 mark to give her squad a 57-56 advantage.
The Blazers did not trail the rest of the way, however, hanging on for a 62-58 win after Grimes knocked in three free-throws in the final 12 seconds to seal the victory.
Jones finished the game with 14 points and six rebounds for UAB, while senior Michaela Kleist scored eight points and tallied four rebounds in the win.
East Carolina had two players in double figures with 27 combined points from sisters Whitny and Britny Edwards.
UAB now gets set for a road contest at Memphis on Thursday. Tip time between the Blazers and Tigers is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.