EUGENE, Oregon (Ticker) -- No. 11 UAB pulled off its second straight major upset and became the first school from Conference USA to advance to the "Sweet 16" with a 78-72 shocker over third-seeded Mississippi State in a West Region contest.
With just one previous NCAA Tournament experience under their belt prior to this season, the Blazers (21-12) are headed to regional semifinals where they will face No. 2 Rutgers on Saturday.
UAB used a 13-5 spurt to open a 62-46 cushion with 6:28 remaining. Deanna Jackson scored six points and her putback of Michelle Smith's miss closed the run.
The Bulldogs (24-8) roared back with a 19-8 run to close within 70-65 with 60 seconds left. Angela Harris netted 10 points and freshman LaToya Thomas added six.
UAB put the contest away from the line as Mia Thrash hit four free throws and Holly Holland added three. The win came two nights after the Blazers upset homestanding Oregon for their first NCAA Tournament triumph.
The Blazers made their only other tournament appearance in 1994, losing to George Washington.
UAB played most of the second half without point guard Lisa Jackson, who suffered a sprained ankle and sat on the bench with it wrapped. She finished with 11 points in 23 minutes.
Holland scored 21 points, Jackson added 20 on 10-of-16 shooting and Smith 17 for the Blazers, who shot 58 percent (30-of-52). Jackson grabbed 11 rebounds as UAB owned a 39-32 advantage.
Despite being the highest seed in this subregion, Mississippi State did not serve as host because the school could not reserve enough hotel rooms.
Thomas closed a spectacular freshman season with 26 points tonight on 11-of-17 shooting with Harris adding 17 and Cynthia Hall 13 for the Bulldogs, who shot 41 percent (29-of-71).
The six Southeastern Conference-teams in the tournament won their first-round games, but went 1-2 today with Louisiana State winning and Mississippi State and Auburn losing.