No. 12 Miami's Ties Home Mark in Win Over No. 14 FSU
Feb. 24, 2011
By Rob Dunning
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Playing in front of an animated crowd that obviously grasped the implications of Thursday night’s game, the 12th-ranked University of Miami women’s basketball team turned in its most impressive half of the 2011 season, pulling away from No. 14 Florida State for an important 84-68 win at the BankUnited Center.
With seeding for the ACC Tournament on the line and in the balance in an intense second half, the Hurricanes (25-3, 11-2 ACC) and the Seminoles (22-6, 10-3 ACC) battled back and forth before UM eventually asserted itself late to pull away for the 16-point victory.
“That first half was an absolute grind,” head coach Katie Meier said. “And the first 10 minutes of the second half was an absolute grind. But there is something about my team…it’s those wildfire moments when all of a sudden, we ignite. You just never know who it is going to be or why it is going to happen.”
The win puts Miami in a two-way tie atop the conference standing with Duke (25-3, 11-2), who beat Virginia, 71-48, Thursday night. It also gave the Hurricanes a perfect 20-0 record inside the BankUnited Center this season and extended their home win-streak to 24 games overall – tying a program record.
The `Canes and the `Noles went back and forth in a competitive first half, which saw Miami take a 30-28 lead into the break. FSU seemed to have made right adjustments early in the second period – going up by as much as eight with 10 minutes to play — but the `Canes went on a ridiculous 40-16 run the rest of the way to beat their rivals and set up the most important day this program as seen in quite some time.
“We weren’t lying when we said we are an emotional team,” Meier said. “I think emotion absolutely fueled us in that victory. This was a big win but the reality is we have to go up Georgia Tech and play a bigger game now.”
The hunt for the regular season title and No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament will now come down to Sunday, when Miami travels to Georgia Tech (21-8, 9-4) and Duke plays host to North Carolina (22-6, 8-5). A Miami win and a Duke loss would mean the `Canes would earn the top seed in the tournament. If Duke beats UNC, the Blue Devils would earn the top seed in the tournament regardless of Miami’s result due to the league’s tie-breaker rule with Duke having beat Miami during the teams’ only meeting this season.
Florida State, who hosts Clemson (10-18, 3-10) on Sunday, cannot earn the top seed as Duke owns the tie-breaker over the `Noles.
In what has become almost as certain as a UM victory, Shenise Johnson led all scorers with 25 points on 6-of-18 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. The All-America and ACC Player of Year candidate added a career-high tying 15 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots.
“Twenty-five, 15 and seven,” Meier said. “Enough said.”
The Hurricanes, who were out-rebounded by FSU 47-to-28 in a seven-point loss to the `Noles in Tallahassee in January, performed much better on the glass Thursday night, pulling down two more (47-to-45) than FSU.
As usual, All-ACC candidates Morgan Stroman and Riquna Williams were right there with Johnson in leading the `Canes. Stroman finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals while Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds (two shy of her career-high).
Stephanie Yderstrom, who had scored in double-figures three straight games coming in, finished with eight points and three assists.
Both teams shot similar from the field (UM – 37.3; FSU – 37.7), the three-point line (UM – 32.0; FSU – 28.6) and the line (UM – 70.3; FSU – 75.0). Ultimately it came down to protecting the basketball and forcing turnovers, two aspects of the game Miami thrives. UM forced 21 turnovers – including nine from FSU point guard Courtney Ward – and finished with 11 steals as a team.
The `Canes also held a 23-to-12 advantage in points off turnovers.
Ultimately, it came down to the final 10 minutes where Miami completely controlled the game, specifically on the defensive end.
“The team sort of took on its own personality,” Meier said of the late-game defense. “They just ran traps when they felt like it and stuck with passes. We were swarming and scrambling and I said OK, `Let’s keep it up’. It was really on them. They knew personnel, rotated to the right people and played the scout extremely well the last eight minutes of that ballgame.”
Miami’s game against Georgia Tech is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
With the win, the Hurricanes are now…
Home Court Advantage
On the Rise
The Hurricanes have already clinched a first round bye in next week’s ACC tournament in Greensboro.
Florida State is one of the three ACC opponents that UM will face twice this season, with Boston College and Georgia Tech being the other two.
The Hurricanes then went on an 18-0 run, beginning with a Riquna Williams layup with 3:45 remaining and lasting until an FSU layup with 45 seconds left, to ice the game.
In total, the `Canes went on a 37-14 run to end the game.
ACC Player of the Year?
On the line
Bullock also tied a career-high with three steals.
On the Boards