Lady Toppers suffer first conference loss of season to UAB

WKU junior Kayla Smith (32) shoots a deep three pointer during WKU’s game vs. Notre Dame on Nov 14, 2017 in E.A. Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers lost 78-65.

Tyler Mansfield

Despite having three different players score in double figures, WKU couldn’t overcome Alabama-Birmingham in a tough environment and fell 79-61 for the team’s first Conference USA loss of the year.

Ivy Brown scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Dee Givens scored 14 and Tashia Brown added 13, but UAB shot 43 percent from the field and outscored WKU (12-5 overall, 3-1 C-USA) 22-7 in the fourth quarter to improve to 8-0 on its home court this year.

WKU trailed 20-15 after the first quarter and then 41-39 at halftime, and just couldn’t match the Blazers’ hot shooting in the second half. UAB out-rebounded the Lady Toppers 41-32 and led for over 29 minutes compared to WKU’s seven.

The two sides exchanged baskets over the course of the first few minutes, but UAB built a 17-11 lead with 1:43 remaining in the opening quarter. With a pair of free throws by Ivy and a jumper by Tashia, WKU was able to cut its deficit to 20-15 after one.

By outscoring UAB 26-19 in the second, the Lady Toppers took a 41-39 advantage into the locker room at halftime. After a pair of free throws by Givens that brought WKU to within one at 31-30, it soon was able to take a 38-35 lead at the 1:52 mark.

Terri Smith’s 3-pointer with under a minute left in the half put WKU up by two at the break. The Lady Toppers shot 46 percent over the course of the first two quarters, including 50 percent shooting from 3-point range. Ivy was up to 16 points and seven rebounds, while Givens had 12 points.

After things were tied at 46 early in the third, UAB used a 7-0 run to take a 51-46 lead at the 5:02 mark. Tashia hit a layup to cut WKU’s deficit down to three, but a 3-pointer by Miyah Barnes pushed the Blazers’ lead to 54-48 with 3:33 left in the quarter.

An Ivy Brown 3-pointer made it 56-53 before the Lady Toppers trailed 57-54 entering the fourth.

UAB hit a big 3-pointer to open the final quarter and then built a 62-54 lead with 7:37 remaining in the contest. Another surge by the Blazers put WKU in a 66-56, double-digit hole with under five minutes left. Leading by 10, UAB continued to put the Lady Toppers away and dealt them a road loss.

WKU now returns home to host Texas-San Antonio on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at 270-935-0007 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_TylerMansfield.