Fast start, strong finish lifts UAB past Lady Eagles

Fast start, strong finish lifts UAB past Lady Eagles
The University of Alabama-Birmingham finished off a weekend sweep of the University of Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles Saturday with an 84-65 victory at Reed Green Coliseum. (Source: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A slow start by the University of Southern Mississippi and a dominating finish by the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday helped keep the Lady Eagles winless in Conference USA.

The Lady Blazers led by 15 points after one period and then after the Lady Eagles spent the next 2 ½ quarters closing to within 69-63 in the fourth stanza, UAB closed out an 84-65 win on a 15-2 run.

“Our team got punched in the mouth,” USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “But I will say, our team fought back. We were able to pull within six points.

“Imani Carter hit some big shots for us. Allie Kennedy hit some big shots as well. We saw those bright spots.”

The Lady Eagles (2-4, 0-4 C-USA) were seeing spots in front of their eyes after falling behind 31-16 after one quarter and trailing by as many as 21 points in the second.

UAB (7-3, 2-2) came out firing, going 5-of-5 from beyond the 3-point arc and 11-of-16 from the field overall.

USM began to chip away at the deficit midway through the second quarter. Kennedy knocked down three shots from the charity stripe and a personal 5-0 run from Carter brought the Lady Eagles to within 14.

Kelsey Jones added a pair of layups in the final 35 seconds to make it 43-31 in favor of UAB going in to the locker room.

UAB pushed its lead back to 14 at the end of the third quarter by spreading the ball around, as five of the Lady Blazers eight field goals came off an assist in the quarter.

A 14-6 run for the Lady Eagles to open the fourth quarter saw USM get as close to the lead as they had been since the 4:55 mark in the first quarter.

However, the Lady Blazers’ closing run sealed the victory. Kennedy led USM scorers with 13 points. Carter and freshman Melyia Grayson also finished in double figures, with 11 and 10, respectively.

Jones finished just shy of a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds in the contest.

Two Jones College transfers acquitted themselves nicely over the weekend.

Center Zakyia Weathersby of Collins started both games and recorded a “double-double” in both games. She averaged 11.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in the two games.

Forward LaMiracle Sims had 10 points and seven rebounds in Saturday’s game. She grabbed six rebounds in the Friday night opener.

The Lady Eagles will return to action next weekend as they travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to take on Middle Tennessee State University in a pair of C-USA contests.

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