After UAB took out USF’s men’s basketball team only four days ago, the women’s team followed a similar fate, dropping its Conference USA opener to the Blazers Sunday. The Bulls narrowly lost the game in the last five seconds on a missed free throw.
Despite a rally by the Bulls to pull within one, UAB managed to hang on and win the game by two. Aiya Shepard had a chance to tie the game at the foul line, but missed her second free throw, keeping the Bulls one point away at 72-71.
With only five seconds left, the Bulls fouled center Michelle Smith, who went 1-for-2, making the UAB lead two and the final score of the game 73-71.
“I was proud of my team,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “How they battled back to cut it down to two with 12 seconds to play.”
The main culprit in the USF loss was the shooting percentage of the Blazers in the second half. UAB shot 62.5 percent from the field and 80 percent from the three-point line, allowing the Blazers to go up 15 with 10:51 left in the game and then hang on.
“We shot the ball well, I just don’t think we played well enough defensively to win,” Fernandez said. “UAB did a great job in the paint and rebounding offensively. UAB dominated the paint.”Other than rebounding, USF did everything statistically right on Sunday, shooting a season-high 40 percent for the game and achieving a season low, committing only 10 turnovers. USF’s free-throw percentage was high as well, as the Bulls made 8-of-10 from the line.
Despite the season high shooting and helpful turnover ratio, UAB had better numbers shooting a total of 51.9 percent from the field. The Blazers also outrebounded the Bulls 48-31, making up for the 22 turnovers they committed.
“We did a good job taking care of the basketball,” Fernandez said. “We just didn’t defend. We had three kids foul out.”
Guard Aiya Shepard had a season-high 22 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 2-of-3 from the three-point line. The oft-injured Jen Kline also had a season high in points, going 5-of-9 from the field and draining two three-pointers, contributing 12 points.
Center Jameelah Trimble had a tough night, posting four points and grabbing a season-low one board.
“Trimble played the first five, six minutes of the first half and was kept out for disciplinary reason,” Fernandez said. “Her status is uncertain right now. We will get back and evaluate her situation.”
Despite the loss to UAB, the Bulls are looking forward to their next conference game against Marquette Jan. 17 in Wisconsin. Marquette is 8-5 for the season after they dropped their C-USA opener against DePaul on Sunday.
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