Ivy Brown scored a game-high 25 points and was one of three Lady Toppers in double figures, but WKU dropped its first C-USA matchup of the 2017-18 season in a 79-61 decision at UAB on Saturdayevening inside Bartow Arena.
Ivy Brown fell just shy of a double-double with 25 points and nine rebounds for WKU (12-5, 3-1 C-USA) while also adding a career-best six blocks. Dee Givens totaled 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-3 on three-pointers, and Tashia Brown notched 13 points with five rebounds and four assists on the evening.
For UAB (14-2, 3-0 C-USA), Miyah Barnes and Rachael Childress led the way with 18 points apiece, and Deanna Kuzmanic joined them in double figures with 15 points. Barnes dished out a game-high six assists, and the Blazers, who entered the contest leading Division I in three-point field goal percentage, knocked down nine of their 20 shots (45.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
After WKU jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, UAB responded with five straight points over the next two minutes to grab the lead. Childress sparked the stretch for the Blazers with a three-pointer, and Kara Rawls’ layup at the 6:09mark gave UAB an early 7-4 edge.
Givens’ first three-pointer of the night with 4:44 to play in the opening quarter again pushed the Lady Toppers out in front with a 9-7 advantage, but seven straight points from UAB left WKU facing another deficit. Trista Magee started the burst with a triple, and Kuzmanic’s free throws capped the stretch for a 14-9 UAB lead.
The Blazers’ lead grew to as many as seven points before the end of the frame, but WKU fought back early in the second quarter, outscoring UAB 8-4 over the first two minutes to knot the game at 24-24. Six points during the run from Ivy Brown and another three-pointer from Givens pulled the Lady Toppers even for the first time since midway through the first frame.
Neither team could gain more than a one-possession edge until a deep three-pointer from Terri Smith with just under a minute remaining gave WKU a 41-37 lead. UAB’s Childress knocked down a layup at the buzzer, but WKU carried a 41-39 lead into the halftime break.
Both sides exchanged the lead coming out of the locker room, eventually tying up at 46-46 after UAB’s Barnes hit a layup with 7:32 on the clock. That layup began a 7-0 run for the Blazers, who jumped out in front, 51-46, on another Barnes layup midway through the quarter.
WKU trimmed the deficit back to just two points, 56-54, after four straight points from Ivy Brown with less than a minute to play in the frame, but UAB was able to maintain a 57-54 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
After Childress connected from deep to begin the final frame, WKU was unable to close the gap back to a one-possession game the rest of the way. The Lady Toppers battled hard down the stretch but were not able to battle back for the victory.
WKU will return home to the friendly confines of E.A. Diddle Arena on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. for the Lady Toppers’ annual Spread the Red Education Day game against UTSA. The Lady Toppers have posted a perfect 6-0 record in Education Day tilts since beginning the tradition during the 2010-11 campaign and have defeated a C-USA foe in each of the six outings, including a 60-48 win over UAB last season.