Opposing players to watch

Women’s Basketball: UAB @ Marshall

Saturday at 1 p.m.

Janae Smith, Forward, #25- The reigning C_USA player of the week comes to town after leading University of Alabama at Birmingham to two victories last week with averages of 22.5 points per game on 54.1 percent shooting and 8.5 rebounds per game. Last week’s performance is by no means an outlier. Smith is a scoring machine this season, ranking fourth in the conference at 18.2 PPG. Smith led the Blazers in scoring in 17 of 24 games this season and has eclipsed the 20-point mark in 10 of those contests. In fact, she scored more than 20 points in five of the team’s last seven games. Smith is a versatile scorer as she prefers to work down low in the post, but can also make outside jumpers, evidenced by her 17 three-pointers this season. Smith is also adept at drawing contact while working underneath as she goes to line just over 4.5 times per game, where she converts an impressive 85.7 percent of her free throw attempts, second in the conference. Smith’s impact is not just on the offensive end, she is also a force defensively. She ranks second in the conference in blocks at 1.5 per game and leads UAB in total steals and rebounding.

Chelsee Black, Guard, #21- Smith’s running mate, Black, is an effective scorer with a smooth stroke from beyond the arc. Black is averaging 12.4 PPG, but her 38.9 field goal percentage doesn’t exactly scream efficiency. Black has converted 95 of 244 total FG attempts this season and is 37-100 from three. She also has the ability to get to the foul line, averaging 3.5 FTA per game. Black is the primary creator for the Blazers and leads the team with 57 assists this season, but she coughs up the ball at a similar rate totaling 53 turnovers. She may not be the most efficient player, given her shooting percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio, but Black certainly makes an impact on the game.

Brad Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected].