Hurricanes Get Statement Win as ACC Race Heats Up
Feb. 10, 2011
By Rob Dunning
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In a game between two Top 25 teams with identical 20-3 records, the outcome was destined to be close. How the game was won was nearly just as predictable, as the feisty `Canes forced the visiting Terrapins into 23 turnovers in an 83-75 victory Thursday night at the BankUnited Center.
No. 20 Miami came into the game second in the country in steals per game (15.2) and second in turnover margin (+9.22), while No. 12 Maryland ranked 250th in turnovers (19.3). It was the top storyline coming in and it played out in front of a loud crowd there to see the most meaningful game of the Hurricanes’ season thus far.
Both the Hurricanes (21-3, 7-2) and the Terrapins (20-4, 6-3) had a lot riding on this game. Both teams were looking for a statement win that would not only help build their March resume, but keep them in the thick of things in the regular season ACC race.
In the end, it was the `Canes who came out on top behind yet another standout performance by star Shenise Johnson, who came just shy of a career-high with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting. She was joined by usual suspects Riquna Williams and Morgan Stroman, who had 16 and 20 respectively to help put the `Canes over the 80-point mark for the 16th time in 24 games.
The win, Miami’s 22nd straight at home dating back to last season, wasn’t the easiest but they rarely are against a team like Maryland. The Hurricanes made it look easy in the first half, jumping out to a 45-31 halftime lead. The Terps slowly crept back in the second half – cutting the lead to as close as 72-70 with 2:43 remaining thanks to slew of fast break points – but Johnson hit four late free throws to seal the deal.
Ultimately though, the game down to Miami’s defensive tenacity. The Terps shot better (50.9-percent to 44.6-percent), had the rebounding edge (41-to-29) and had much more help from the bench (24-to-8) but none of it mattered.
The `Canes were relentless on defense, as they have been all season. Miami is used to forcing teams into turnovers. It is what they do best. And while it’s one thing to do it against Kennesaw State and Lipscomb, they are doing it against teams like Maryland, Georgia Tech and Boston College.
Look at Stroman’s line Thursday night. Twenty points, nine rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks. That is coming from a power forward.
Look at Williams’ line. She didn’t have the scoring night she is used to, but she contributed in every other aspect of the game, turning in four assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
This team does it all, but they do one thing especially well. When they want the basketball, they are going to go get it.
With the win, the Hurricanes are now…
On the Rise
Last season the `Canes won the only meeting up in College Park, Md. 80-77 ending the Terps 48-game home winning streak at Comcast Center.
When it counted most…
Protecting the Ball