34-point quarter puts UAB over the edge
Keonna Farmer had 20 points and seven rebounds, Deanna Kuzmanic added 18, and the UAB Blazers (12-11, 5-7 C-USA) used free throws and three-point shooting to defeat the Charlotte 49ers (17-6, 9-3 C-USA) 88-81. Rachael Childress added 15 points for the Blazers, who had four players in double figures and hit 29-34 (85.3 percent) of their free throws compared to Charlotte’s 15-19 (78.9 percent).
Grace Hunter had 23 points and 12 boards and Ciara Gregory added 17 for Charlotte, who had their 13-point lead erased in the final minutes. Nyilah Jamison-Myers had 15 and Laia Raventos had 13 points for the home team, which shot 29-55 (52.7 percent) for the game but still came up short. The Niners coughed up the ball 21 times, while UAB had 16 turnovers during the game.
“Today, we lost the game because of our defense,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “With the exception of the third quarter, I thought we weren’t good defensively, at all. Obviously that accumulated in the fourth quarter when we could not stop anything UAB threw at us. We cannot give up 34 points in a quarter. We cannot allow a team to shoot 34 free throws.”
Charlotte came out firing on all cylinders, as they started the game on a 7-0 run. UAB eventually responded, but Charlotte increased their lead to nine before another timeout. UAB went on a 7-0 run themselves, but Charlotte closed the quarter with yet another 7-0 run to go up 23-15. Jamison-Myers netted eight points during the frame, while Raventos had six points. The Niners converted 9-16 (56.3 percent) field goals compared to the Blazers’ 6-16 (37.5 percent) and also outscored them in the paint 10-6.
The second quarter was the Grace Hunter show for Charlotte, as the sophomore dropped nine points and four rebounds during the quarter. Despite her efforts, the Blazers stormed all the way back and knotted the game at 30 with about four minute left. Charlotte kept trying to pull away but could only increase their lead by four, until Hunter’s three-ball with two seconds left gave them a 44-38 halftime lead. During the frame, Charlotte shot 55 percent but were outscored in the paint 10-8 and in bench production (8-4).
In the third quarter, Charlotte built their advantage to 10 points, as Hunter, Gregory and Raventos all got in on the action. After going up 55-45, UAB continued to chip away but still found themselves down 62-52 with about 30 ticks remaining. Gregory then hit a stepback buzzer-beating three ball that gave Charlotte a 65-54 lead and all the momentum heading into the fourth.
UAB finally narrowed the margin to eight points, 70-62, after hitting a three pointer. After the ensuing timeout, the teams went back and forth, but UAB soon went on a 7-0 run. Charlotte began committing more fouls, most of them coming in the backcourt going for offensive rebounds. Farmer hit all 12 of her free throws for UAB while also hitting four other field goals, and Charlotte couldn’t stop her in the paint. Kuzmanic also came through with a timely three-pointer, and UAB finished the game at the line to win 88-81.
“If you want to compete and be one of the best teams in this league, you can’t have let downs like that,” Consuegra said. “We have to refocus ourselves because it’s what we’re capable of. Because at the end of the day, it’s the players that lead the way and lead this team.”
Charlotte will hit the floor again on Saturday as they take on Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. Eastern time. This contest will also be aired on ESPN3.