No. 12 Miami's Ties Home Mark in Win Over No. 14 FSU

Feb. 24, 2011

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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.

1st 2nd F
Miami 30 54 84
Florida State 28 40 68
Team Stat Comparison
Points 84 68
FG Made-Attempted 25-67 23-61
FG Percentage 37.3 37.7
3P Made-Attempted 8-25 4-14
3P Percentage 32.0 28.6
FT Made-Attempted 26-37 18-24
FT Percentage 70.3 75.0
Rebounds 47 45
Assists 16 13
Turnovers 16 21
Miami Stat Leaders Florida State
S. Johnson 25 Points 19 C. Ward
S. Johnson 15 Rebounds 10 C. Brevard
S. Johnson 7 Assists 6 C. Ward
M. Stroman 5 Steals 2 N. Howard
S. Johnson 3 Blocks 1 Four Tied

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.

Post-Game Notes

Tonight’s Starters
Coach Katie Meier started Shenise Johnson, Riquna Williams, Morgan Stroman, Stefanie Yderstrom and Sylvia Bullock once again. The same group has started all 28 games this season – tied with Florida State for most in the country with one starting unit.

With the win, the Hurricanes are now…

  • 25-3 overall
  • 11-2 ACC
  • A perfect 20-0 at the BankUnited Center this season
  • Winners of 24 straight home games
  • Winners of 24 of 26 games
  • 5-3 versus ranked teams this season

Home Court Advantage
The 24 consecutive wins at home ties the longest home winning streak in program history, matching the streak set from 1990-91 through 1992-93 seasons. The Hurricanes went a perfect 20-0 at the BankUnited Center this season. The only other team to go undefeated for an entire home season was the 1991-92 squad who went 14-0 at home.

On the Rise
The `Canes continue to set a new team record for ACC wins with 11 now, as they currently sit in a tie for first place in the league with Duke. The Blue Devils defeated Virginia 71-48 tonight to also improve to 11-2 in the conference. Each team has one remaining regular season ACC contest, with Miami traveling to Georgia Tech and Duke hosting North Carolina.

The Hurricanes have already clinched a first round bye in next week’s ACC tournament in Greensboro.

Tonight’s Opponent
The Seminoles came into Miami ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the USA Today/ESPN poll. They had won eight of nine games, including a 72-66 home victory over No. 17/16 Maryland last Sunday. Florida State defeated Miami in the previous meeting in Tallahassee 66-59 on Jan. 24.

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.

Miami trailed by eight points with 11:24 remaining in the game, but went on an 18-6 run to take a lead at 64-60 that they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

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?
Shenise Johnson shined once again when it mattered most, putting up an All-America performance. The junior scored 25 points, tied a career-high with 15 rebounds, dished seven assists, rejected a three shots (also tying a career-high) while tying a season-high 39 minutes on the court. For good measure, she converted 11-of-12 free throws. Case made.

On the line
Sylvia Bullock tied career-highs in free throws made (4) and free throws attempted (8) Thursday night. In the second half, the Seminoles employed the hack-a-Shaq strategy against Bullock, but the junior stepped up to the line knocking down both to compromise the plan.

Bullock also tied a career-high with three steals.

Gimme That
The Hurricanes, second in the nation in steals, only had two at the half, but turned it up after intermission grabbing nine in the second half. Overall, Miami forced 21 turnovers scoring 23 points off of them.

Sophomore forward Morgan Stroman turned in another stellar game with 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. She also showed off her underrated ball-handling skills with several nifty moves bringing the crowd to their feet.

On the Boards
Rebounding, thought of to be a weakness of the team, was critical to the `Canes win. Miami won the battle on the boards 47-45 with Johnson leading the way with 15. Riquna Williams, standing at 5-6, brought down nine rebounds.

Senior Night
Even though the Hurricanes do not have a senior on the team, the University of Miami recognized student-manager Theru Ross as well as senior members of the cheerleading squad and band for their contributions to the program over the last four years.

Many members of the University community came out to support the team tonight. Every Miami team was represented, including the entire Hurricanes coaching staff and players.