Miami Wins UM Thanksgiving Tournament Title

Nov. 29, 2008

CORAL GABLES – The University of Miami women’s basketball team played one of its most complete games of the season to earn their fourth UM Thanksgiving Tournament title with a 60-44 victory over Santa Clara.

The tournament MVP, Miami freshman Shenise Johnson put the Hurricanes (4-2) up for good with a three-pointer from the top of the key with 10:13 remaining in the opening half. For the game, Johnson scored 11 points and ripped down a team-high 10 rebounds. The double-double is the third of the young season for the Henrietta, N.Y. native and she now has more double-doubles than any current Hurricane player.

Miami controlled most of the first half, but a pair of Lena Gipson free-throws pulled the Broncos within four of UM with 1:52 to go before the break. That’s when the sharp-shooting Vitalija Vasciunaite put the game out of reach for the remainder of the contest. The sophomore hit three-consecutive three-pointers to close out the half, giving the `Canes a 35-22 advantage. In all, Vasciunaite hit four shots from behind the arc, tying her career-high, which coincidently occurred last season in the same tournament.

A night after making her season debut, senior Lamese James had one of the best games of her career. James went 6 of 7 from the field, scoring 12 points, the second-most as a Hurricane.

One noticeable difference this year for the Hurricanes, is that the team is making the extra pass and no one has been doing that better than junior Charmaine Clark. She had four in the game and now has 23 on the season. Clark’s previous season-high in assists was 32, her freshman year. The Hinesville, Ga. native also scored six points and had six rebounds. Her performance the last two nights earned her a spot on the all-tournament team.

Joining her on that the all-tournament team was LaToya Cunningham. The senior guard dished out a team-high five assists in the game. That combined with her career-high 19 points against Austin Peay in the opening round warranted the selection.

With the victory, Miami has won three-straight games for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Despite being outrebounded for the first time on the season, the Hurricanes held their opponent to a season-low 44 points on 29 percent shooting. As a team, UM only committed 11 turnovers, which was a season-low.

After playing on consecutive nights, Miami will only have one day of rest as they host Florida A&M Monday at the BankUnited Center. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but will now be starting at 6 p.m.

For ticket information, please call 1-800-Go-Canes or visit hurricanesports.com

2008 UM Thanksgiving All-Tournament TeamCharmaine Clark – MiamiLaToya Cunningham – MiamiLena Gipson – Santa ClaraAlyssa Waldon – Chicago StateNicole Jamen – Austin Peay

Tournament MVPShenise Johnson – Miami