Ice cold Lady Toppers’ comeback falls short at UAB

Lady Topper basketball coach Greg Collins watches his team take on Louisville on Nov. 6. WKU lost 102-80. 

Drake Kizer

The WKU women’s basketball team was burned by a red-hot shooting performance on Saturday afternoon, as the Lady Toppers dropped their fourth consecutive game in Conference USA play on the road against the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers.

WKU (14-13, 8-5 C-USA) has not won a game in two weeks, sliding down league standings in the process. UAB (21-5, 9-4 C-USA) made 10 3-pointers and shot 51 percent from the floor against the Lady Toppers, also out-rebounding WKU 34-24. The Blazers withstood a late scoring drought, holding on for a 70-63 win in Bartow Arena.

C-USA Preseason Team members Deanna Kuzmanic and Rachel Childress proved deadly for the Blazers, combining for 31 points and seven made 3-pointers.

“We are not a strong team,” head coach Greg Collins said on the postgame radio show. “We don’t play physical and we don’t rebound well, and so over and over, we’ve got some kids out there that just don’t box out and don’t pursue the ball.”

For the second consecutive game, the Lady Toppers were led by redshirt junior guard Alexis Brewer. Brewer posted 21 points and two assists for WKU. Sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy added 17 points and five rebounds for the Lady Toppers.

Freshman guard Meral Abdelgawad gave WKU a 2-0 lead less than 20 seconds into the contest, but the Blazers quickly caught fire on both ends. UAB held the Lady Toppers scoreless for over two minutes, enjoying a 5-0 run in the process. WKU also struggled defensively, allowing UAB to make its fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:22 left to play.

After falling behind 16-6, the Lady Toppers went on a 11-0 run in very short order, powered by two 3-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play from Brewer. WKU took a 17-16 lead and was also able to hold UAB scoreless for over three minutes.

The Blazers regained the lead early in the second quarter, but redshirt junior forward Dee Givens quickly answered with a 3-pointer for the Lady Toppers. From there, neither team was able to get too far in front of the other, as both teams tied and traded leads.

WKU went on a 4-0 run midway through the frame, taking a 31-29 lead with 3:59 left before the halftime break. UAB subsequently snapped a scoring drought that lasted over two minutes, tying the game at 31 apiece. Givens added two points for WKU at the charity stripe, while the Blazers netted two foul shots of their own late in the frame.

The score between UAB and WKU was deadlocked after two quarters, 33-33.

The Blazers reclaimed the lead once again on their first shot of the third quarter, but Brewer immediately clapped back on the other end. The Lady Toppers built a three-point lead at the 6:34 mark thanks to a layup and two free throws from Elgedawy, 41-38.

Things quickly got out of hand for WKU from there, as UAB mounted a 14-2 run while 4:45 minutes ticked off the clock. The Lady Toppers did not score for over four minutes of that same stretch, allowing the Blazers to take a 52-43 advantage. Brewer added another and-one layup, but UAB responded by netting its fourth 3-pointer of the frame.

The Lady Toppers trailed 55-46 heading into the final 10 minutes, but they were not ready to give up just yet. WKU mounted a 6-0 run early in the frame, pulling to within five points after Brewer completed her third three-point play of the afternoon.

UAB built its lead back up to 10 points at the 3:50 mark following a 5-0 run of its own.

WKU was still not done, mustering a 7-0 run. Givens capped off that stretch by netting a 3-pointer with only 0:22 left to play in the game. Givens’ shot made the score 66-63, although the score was still in favor of the Blazers.

The Lady Toppers intentionally fouled, but UAB remained composed, cruising to a seven-point victory despite not converting a field goal in the last 2:58 of the contest.

Following the loss, the Lady Toppers will be off for a week until heading to the Cam Henderson Center for a rematch with Marshall (14-11, 8-4 C-USA). WKU won 85-55 on Jan. 12 in Diddle Arena, but the Thundering Herd have posted a 10-4 record at home. WKU will look for the season sweep Saturday at 12 p.m. in Huntington, West Virginia.

Women’s basketball reporter Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @drakekizer_.