The IU women’s basketball team’s 71-63 victory over UAB on Friday was all about having answers to everything UAB threw at them.
Head coach Teri Moren knew coming in to her team’s first game of the Hilton Concord Classic in Moraga, California, that UAB was a team that likes to get out and run and shoot a lot of three-pointers.
The Blazers did exactly that in the first half, but the Hoosiers were ready to answer.
Despite UAB’s quick start in the first quarter in which they went 4-6 from downtown in the quarter, IU was able to trade triples throughout. When freshman Keyanna Warthen’s three-pointer splashed through the nets with two minutes to go, it gave the Hoosiers their first lead since they led 2-0. After yet another UAB three, the game was tied 19-19 heading into the second quarter.
UAB junior Deanna Kuzmanic continued her hot-shooting first half where she went 4-5 from deep to keep the Blazers in the game. However, it was IU’s defense that responded this time by holding the Blazers to 1-13 shooting in the final five minutes of the half.
When senior Tyra Buss nailed a jumper in transition and senior Amanda Cahill made three free throws after being fouled on a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Hoosiers took a 37-32 lead into halftime.
IU’s stingy defense carried over immediately in the third quarter when Cahill’s steal in the first 15 seconds led to a bucket from junior Kym Royster to give IU some early second half momentum.
Kuzmanic tried to keep UAB in the game by building on her hot first half as she scored 22 points on six of seven from three-point range in the game, but IU’s defense never let up in the second half. They held UAB to another scoring drought for about four minutes in the quarter and took a 53-44 lead heading into the fourth.
IU assistant coach Glenn Box said he liked the Hoosiers’ ability to weather the storm of Kuzmanic’s big day on defense. UAB’s leading scorer in sophomore Rachael Childress was held to just 13 points, eight below her average on the night by freshman Bendu Yeaney.
“I think she (Childress) made the very first shot of the game on a very difficult shot and she made another one where we helped off when we didn’t need to so a lot of her points came early on,” Box said. “It was just our focus. We have to be able to maintain focus.”
From there, UAB went scoreless yet again for the first four minutes of the final quarter, allowing IU to get their lead up to as many as 15 points.
However, UAB refused to go down without a fight and battled back to get within six with as little as a minute to go after Royster and freshman Jaelynn Penn both fouled out for the Hoosiers.
IU was able to secure the victory behind Buss’ team-high 22 points. Cahill and Royster were also productive in the post as they both recorded double-doubles. Cahill had 14 points along with 12 rebounds while Royster had 12 points and 13 rebounds of her own.
Box said it was Cahill and Royster’s efforts down low that carried IU on both offense and defense as the Hoosiers won the rebounding battle 46-34 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds to UAB’s 12.
“Our bigs did a really good job in regards to being active inside and pursuing boards,” Box said. “They showed what they were capable of doing and we’re really proud of their effort tonight.”
Box said it was a nice bounce back effort from the Hoosiers after their first loss of the season against Chattanooga at home on Monday that should help them moving forward as they end their time in California on Saturday against Saint Mary’s.
“We just have to forget what took place today,” Box said. “The team we play tomorrow is completely different from the team we saw today. We just have to put it behind us and get our focus on the next team.”
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