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Green Wave sinks Blazers, 86-80
The Blazers headed into Saturday coming off their best performance of the season, in a dominate 84-60 victory over the top team in C-USA, Southern Miss.
Tulane headed to Bartow trying to rebound after their embarrassing 44-71 loss to MTSU.
The stage was set for UAB’s march up the C-USA ranks to begin. Tulane was the foil as they upset the Blazers 86-80 in front of the 5,276 fans at Bartow. Head Coach Jerod Haase commented after the game on the state of the team, “The level of frustration is extreme right now. Our margin for error is so small right now as a team. We have to take advantage of the opportunities like free throws, rebounding and extreme effort. Every one of those things need to be in the positive for us, right now they are not.”
The Green Wave shot the ball 70% in the first half, including draining 8-12 shots from range. The Blazers found themselves down 46-38 at the end of the first half.
Tulane came out of the shooting as well as the second half, while the Blazers struggled to gain traction, and quickly the 8 point deficit grew 18. “I’m certainly disappointed in the outcome in the game. I’m disappointed with the way we started the game with the intensity and intelligence on the defensive end.” Coach Haase said in his opening comments after the game, “I was hoping to mount a comeback early in the half but we did get some steals and created opportunities just didn’t do enough.”
Coach Haase switched to a full court trap defense that triggered a comeback that fall just a bit short. Team captain, Robert Williams said after the game, “That was tough, trying to fight our way back. We pressured them a little bit. Good team won’t let the lead go. We just can’t dig ourselves in a hole like that.”
UAB narrowed a 14 point hole with 3:24 remaining to just 4 with under a minute left. The Green Wave held on with a couple of Free throws and closed out the game with 6 point lead. William said about the loss, “Just knowing we had an opportunity and we let it go. We stepped it up last couple of weeks try to move our way up the standings. We’ve trying to get the defense ready to get it to the tournament. Just knowing we had an opportunity to pick up another win was the toughest part.”
UAB struggled again from range, shooting 22.2% for the game. In addition to struggles beyond the arc, the Birmingham squad missed 15 free throws. A game removed from his second double-double with 20 points, 10 assists against on off the best defensive teams in the conference. Chad Frazier had 21 points but just 2 assists.
Haase’s squad had just 5 assists over the course of the contest. The shot selection wasn’t bad. The Blazers just couldn’t seem to get the lid off of the basket. There was a stretch in the second half where UAB was making stop after stop on the defensive end. There was a seven minute stretch from that started at the 11 minute mark the second half, where Tulane was held to just two baskets. During that stretch UAB missed 5 consecutive lay-ups. Coach Haase commented on that stretch, “We missed five in a row when we were trying to get a comeback. It is tough. We had a deficit and started to make stops of the defensive end. We missed point blank layups; five in a row like, it is hard to make a comeback. You have to score the ball on the offensive end.”
UAB will is a streaky team. They depend on shooting to space the floor properly, if they get hot at the right time, in the conference tournament, they could still make the tournament.
The Blazers are a still a dangerous team. A team that can defend well, has size, and one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The only factor that is hit or miss is the shooting. If Jordan Swing can find a way out of his season long slump, Robert Williams hits his open jumpers, and Frazier and Washington continue to lead your team in scoring, UAB can play with anyone.
Haase said after the game, “When we are at our best, we are an extremely competitive tough minded team we have a chance to compete in this league. When we don’t have that edge, we do have to make our free throws.”
The Green and Gold now hit the road for three straight games before closing out their final two games at home against the top two teams in C-USA.
MVP: Chad Frazier.
The 6’4 guard kept the team within striking distance in the first half. The defense wasn’t playing well but he tallied 18 points on 5-10 shooting including connecting on two of his three attempts from distance. His scoring production fell in the second half, scoring 21 points for the game adding 2 assists and 2 steals.
X-factor: Tulane’s shooting.
The Green Wave shot 15-50 against MTSU. They scored 44 points over the course of the entire game. They scored 46 in the first half on 70% shooting from the floor, and 67% from beyond the arc.
Glaring stat of the night: 23 offensive rebounds.
The Blazers pulled down 23 second chances. From there they scored 20 second chance points. The leader was Robert Williams who pulled down 8 offensive rebounds plus two defensive for a double-double 13 points to add to his 10 boards.
Honorable mention: 5 assists.
The Blazers only managed to get 5 assists after posting 22 in the victory over Southern Miss. The Blazers finished with a negative assist to turnover ratio at 5:9.
Photos by Molly Wilson