Women’s basketball preview: FAU travels to Middle Tennessee and UAB in regular season finale

Owls have a chance of finishing the season with their first winning record since the 2013-14 season


The Owls have lost seven straight games. Photo by Mohammed F Emran

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

WWith just two games remaining in the regular season, Florida Atlantic women’s basketball — which is currently seeded at 11th in the standings — can finish the season as high as seventh or as low as 13th in the standings entering the conference tournament.

The Owls (13-14, 5-11 Conference USA) have the chance to close with a winning record for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. They’re currently coming off a 63-52 win versus their rival FIU and have now won two straight games after seven consecutive losses.

FAU will travel to face Middle Tennessee and the University of Alabama at Birmingham this weekend to cap off the regular season. Here’s what you need to know about both matchups.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders:

Middle Tennessee (19-8, 13-3 Conference USA), winner of 10 of its last 11 games, is coming off a 79-73 win at Marshall, where the Blue Raiders shot 50 percent from the field.

Similar to FAU, Middle Tennessee’s offense has been based around the 3-pointer. In attempted 3-pointers this season, the Blue Raiders rank second behind the Owls in Conference USA with 545, making 32 percent.

Middle Tennessee has three players shooting the 3-pointer better than 40 percent — with a minimum of 10 attempts — with senior guard Caroline Warden leading the way at 44 percent from beyond the arc.
The Blue Raiders also rank fourth in Conference USA in field goal percentage at 42 percent per game. Middle Tennessee has two players shooting 50 percent or better, with sophomore forward Gabby Lyon and freshman forward Alex Johnson shooting 60 percent and 52 percent respectively.

The Blue Raider’s efficient shooting might be because of their excellent ball movement: They top the conference in assists per game at 14.5.

Middle Tennessee ranks fifth in the conference in scoring at 69.6 points per game. Senior guard Brea Edwards, who ranks second in the conference in scoring at 18.3 points per game, torched the Owls for 23 points and nine rebounds when these two teams met Feb. 4.

Middle Tennessee is also one of the better teams defensively in the conference, allowing just 62.6 points per game, good for fourth in the standings.

The Blue Raiders rank seventh in Conference USA in field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot just 40 percent from the field. They’ve been swarming teams on the perimeter all season, with opponents shooting 30 percent from long range.


The Blazers (13-14, 6-10 Conference USA), who are coming off a 64-55 loss to Western Kentucky, have now lost three straight games after winning three straight before that.

UAB ranks in the bottom half of the conference in scoring offense, averaging just 61.7 points per game. UAB’s balance scoring is led by freshman guard Deanna Kuzmanic, at 13.1 points per game.

The Blazers also rank eighth in Conference USA in field goal percentage at 41 percent per game. However, the team ranks fourth in the conference in three-point shooting at 33 percent.

Kuzmanic and senior guard Chelsee Black have been UAB’s best three-point shooters this season, averaging 37 and 36 percent from long range. Kuzmanic also ranks third in the conference in 3-pointers at 2.7 per game.

The Blazers have been the best defensive scoring team in the conference, limiting opponents to just 58 points per game. Their defense has been anchored by their two senior forwards — Brittany Winborne and Kayla Anderson, who average 1.4 and 1.6 blocks respectively.

UAB also allowed opponents to shoot just 39 percent from the field this season, including 33 percent from the three-point line, which ranks third and fourth respectively.


FAU might find it difficult to get easy shots versus Middle Tennessee, but it can also be said that the Blue Raiders might find it difficult to guard the Owls, especially on the perimeter.

The Owls are shooting 34 percent from three-point range, good for second in the conference, and are averaging 9.7 makes per game in the season, good for sixth in the nation.

Sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno has been Conference USA’s best three-point shooter this season, shooting 46 percent from long range and averaging two makes a game.

Defensively, a big part of FAU’s game plan will be to limit Edwards and the damage she can do offensively. She averages five made field goals per game and is known to let it fly from deep, averaging three made 3-pointers a game.

With both teams able to make the three, this game might turn into a shootout, but it can also be defense-based with both teams’ abilities to defend in crunch time.

To defeat the Blazers, ball movement on the offensive end will be essential for the Owls to keep UAB on its feet. FAU is no stranger to sharing the ball — they average 14.1 assists per game, good for second in the conference.

The Owls will also look to get inside the lane early in the game to open up those three-point opportunities.

Part of FAU’s defensive game plan will be to keep UAB from the three-point line. To disrupt their rhythm early, the Owls will be looking to shoot down their two best three-point shooters in Kuzmanic and Black.

FAU will play Middle Tennessee on Thursday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. and UAB on Saturday, March 5, at 2 p.m.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.