Blazers burn Pirates

Published 11:40 pm Saturday, March 5, 2011

By Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  č Jamarr Sanders scored 15 points and Ovie Soko had 10 points and 10 rebounds to help lead Alabama-Birmingham to a 66-48 victory over East Carolina on Saturday night, giving the Blazers the Conference USA regular-season championship.

It is the first outright conference championship for the Blazers (22-7, 12-4) in 21 years, since the 1989-90 team won the Sun Belt Conference. UAB shared the Conference USA title in 2004 with four other teams.

The victory gives the Blazers seven wins in the past eight games and bolsters their chances of making the NCAA tournament, though they are hurt by having no nonconference victories over a team in the top 50 of the RPI.

The Pirates (16-14, 8-8) made the game’s opening basket, then went scoreless for the next six minutes. That enabled the Blazers to build a 10-2 lead and they never trailed again. A 17-5 run gave UAB a 31-12 halftime lead.