LAKE CHARLES, La. (Nov. 18, 2011) – UAB’s stingy defense forced the Lady Bucs into 28 turnovers and held the Blue and Gold below 30 percent shooting, as the Blazers battled their way to a 59-47 victory Friday night in the Preseason WNIT inside McNeese State’s Burton Coliseum.
The Lady Bucs didn’t have any players score in double figures as Natalie Pickwell (Kingsport, Tenn.), Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.), and Gwen Washington (Manassas, Va.) each finished with nine points, while UAB’s Amber Jones led all players with 21 points.
With the loss, the Blue and Gold are still searching for their first win of the young season as ETSU dipped to 0-2, while the Blazers improved to 1-1 following the 12-point win.
Neither team lit up the scoreboard in the opening 20 minutes, but UAB had a little bit more of some offensive firepower as the Blazers carried a 23-19 lead into the break.
Freshman post Amy Duke (Hendersonville, Tenn.) scored the first points of the game with a lay-up, but then both teams went over eight minutes without a field goal until Pickwell’s first 3-pointer of the season gave the Blue and Gold a 5-3 lead at the 11:23 mark. From there, the Lady Bucs made two more field goals; however, ETSU managed to tally 10 free throws to only trail by four at the half.
For the half, the Lady Bucs shot 28.6 percent (4-14) from the field and went only 1-of-4 from beyond the arc, compared to UAB shooting 22.6 percent (7-31) and 2-for-15 from three-point range. Seventeen of the 42 total first half points came at the free throw line, as ETSU went 10-for-14 at the charity stripe and the Blazers were 7-of-15. The Blazers out-rebounded the Lady Bucs by five, 23-18, while all 18 of ETSU’s rebounds came on the defensive end. UAB pulled down 11 offensive rebounds, but the Blazers were held to one second chance point.
Just like the first half ETSU opened the second half with the first bucket as Pickwell nailed a three from the top of the arc – and after Mitchell sank a pair of free throws – the Lady Bucs regained a 24-23 lead with 19:07 showing on the clock.
Unfortunately, Mitchell picked up her third foul a few minutes later and UAB took advantage of the Lady Bucs’ leading scorer being sent to the bench for the next eight or so minutes.
With the game tied at 26, the Blazers scored seven unanswered points to take a 33-26 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in the contest. The Lady Bucs showed some fight over the next three minutes and thirty seconds as ETSU cut the deficit to two, 34-32, after Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) found Washington open for a lay in at the 11:26 mark.
However, ETSU was never able to get over the hump from that point forward.
Karisma Chapman stopped the brief run with a lay-up on UAB’s next trip down the floor, while three consecutive three-pointers by Kelsie Weynand extended the Blazer lead to 13, 45-32, with less than nine minutes to play in the game. ETSU was able to get back to within nine, but UAB eventually saw its lead grow to as many as 18 and the Blazers cruised to the win.
For the game, the Lady Bucs finished 11-of-37 (29.7 percent) from the field, while Pickwell (3-for-3) had all three of ETSU’s three-pointers. Despite shooting worse than ETSU, the Blazers (28.3 percent shooting) were able to make five more threes (8-of-26) than the Lady Bucs, which proved to be the difference maker. Meanwhile, for the second straight game, the Lady Bucs shot over 80 percent from the free throw line – going 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) – compared to UAB’s 17-for-31 showing (54.8 percent).
ETSU, who had forced its last 302 opponents into a nation-best double digit turnovers, saw the streak come to a halt as UAB only coughed the ball up nine times. On the other end, the Blazers scored 18 points off their 28 forced turnovers.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday afternoon when ETSU takes on the loser between McNeese State or Manhattan. McNeese State is automatically placed into the 1 p.m. (ET) time slot on Saturday.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.