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Blazer hopes busted in final seconds, 61-63
After battling back from an eight point deficit, the Blazers were down by two with 15.1 seconds left in Saturday’s conference matchup against UTEP.
Chad Frazier drove the key and kicked the ball out to a wide open Robert Williams for a corner three.
The team captain took the open jumper, and it bounced off the back iron. The ball was tipped several times before UTEP came up with the rebound, ending the close conference match-up in a 63-61 Miner victory.
“I wanted the ball in [Chad Frazier’s] hands to make a play. I wanted him to attack the rim; either get fouled or find an open shooter. We got a wide open shot. We didn’t get it. I thought we competed for the offensive rebound. We didn’t get that either. If you would have told us we get I good look from three we would have taken that,” said head coach Jerod Haase after the game.
“Coach said in the timeout that he wanted us to attack. It was an open shot, I just didn’t make it,” said Williams.
That would have been the cap to a solid second half. However, shooting from range was a problem for the Green and Gold all night going just 2-14 for the game including the buzzer beater.
UAB shot well from the field converting 42% of their shots, scoring 36 points in the paint.
Most stats were pretty close to even, with one team not holding a significant advantage in any category except for 3-point shooting. The Miners converted on 6 of the 14 tries from beyond the arc giving them a 42.9% for the game compared to the 14.3% for the Green and Gold.
“I was proud of the way the guys competed. It was a tough locker room after contest like that. I thought we competed. We weren’t ever able to put continuous offense possessions together and make a run at them. I am even more proud of that because we just competed every possession throughout the game. We continued to grind. We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game to win it. I thought we had some good looks in the second half, better than we did in the first half. We didn’t make quite enough of them. Yet, we still put ourselves in position to win the game. They just made one more play than we did,” said Haase.
The 6,123 fans watched the home team fall behind by eight in the first half due to some disoriented play. Foul trouble effected the Blazer rotation in the first half with CJ Washington getting just 9 minutes of action in the first stanza picking up two quick fouls. Down one big was particularly challenging against UTEP due to their size with a roster full of height.
UAB also turned the ball over 8 times in the first half compared to just 2 in the final twenty minutes.
“I feel like they came out trying to take us out of our game by slowing us down lowering the possessions of the game. We still competed and responded in the second half. We just came up a little short,” senior guard Williams said.
“We were just making plays late. Taking too long to figure out how to attack their defense, by the time we did it was just too little too late,” senior guard Jordan Swing said, regarding the team’s early struggle.
The Blazers will now have to battle on the road trying to even up the conference record in Denton, Texas, as the take on the Mean Green.
After the tough loss, Haase told his team, “I believe we have a very resilient group. They are going to need to prove it. They are going to need to stick together. The season isn’t over. They have to bounce back.”
MVP: Rod Rucker.
He went 7-11 scoring 17 points and grabbing 6 boards. His ability to drive the lane and break down the zone was a key component of the Blazer success. He didn’t rebound as well as normal but playing against the tall UTEP squad that boasted four guys over 6’8 in the starting lineup. Rebounds were hard to come by.
X-Factor: 3-point shooting.
The Blazers couldn’t get a triple to fall. For the Green and Gold, the lid was on the basket from range for most of the night shooting just 14.3% with the one being the missed three to end the game. The Miners shot a hot 42.9% from beyond the arc, which was the difference in the game.
Stat of the Night: Chad Frazier had 7 turnovers.
A game after not giving the ball away once, the JUCO had problems making clean passes. He had a rough first half, only scoring 2 points on 0-2 shooting and gave the ball away 5 times. He turned things around in the second only turning it over twice and putting up 11 points.