Johnson Leads Miami into ACC Tournament Semifinals
March 4, 2011
By Rob Dunning
GREENSBORO, N.C.-No one said it would ever be easy. It rarely is on this stage.
The 10th-ranked and second-seeded University of Miami women’s basketball team survived a close scare from 10th-seeded NC State in a highly-contested 93-85 win Friday night in quarterfinal action at the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Miami (27-3) will now face the winner of Friday’s late game between No. 3 seed Florida State and No. 6 seed North Carolina in Saturday’s semifinal round.
“We are thrilled,” head coach Katie Meier said. “We know the ACC and they were the 10 [seed] but you can throw that out the window. There is no question that NC State is a spirited team.”
Most expected the Hurricanes to cruise, and it looked like they would early on going up by 17 just five minutes in. But NC State (14-17) wouldn’t go down easy, battling back in the second half to bring the game down to the wire.
In the end, however, the Hurricanes were just too much for the Wolfpack to handle. UM out-ran and out-performed their opponent, pulling away for a eight-point win in the final minutes.
“It definitely means a lot,” ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson said of her first ACC tournament win. “Well earned. We worked our butts off for two years and we haven’t been able to come up with wins.
“We definitely more of a veteran team,” Johnson continued. “The WNIT last year helped us and we just kept coming on. We know each other now, and obviously you can see that.”
The victory was the first for Miami an ACC Tournament game since the `Canes took down Georgia Tech, 60-58, on March 4, 2005 in first round action.
As she has all season, Johnson led the `Canes in the victory, scoring a team-high 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Johnson’s scoring output extended her consecutive games in double figures streak to 68.
Riquna Williams, who had just five points in nine minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls, finished the game with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Stephanie Yderstrom and Morgan Stroman also reached double-figure scoring. Stroman finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Yderstrom finished with 15, with nine of those coming in the first five minutes of the game.
Miami held leads of 13-2, 20-3 and 25-7 in the game’s early minutes before taking a 46-34 halftime lead. NC State slowly crept back in the second half and eventually tied the game up at 60-all and then 64-all mid-way through the period. From there, the `Canes held a close single-digit lead the rest of the way before finishing the way they started the game – in control.
“Both coaches expected this game to be a high-scoring affair,” Meier said. “I am obviously very blessed with some really special players…great offensive players. But when it comes down to it, it is usually a huge defensive play that usually wins the game for Miami and I thought that we had a couple really nice steals towards the end there that kind of broke their backs a little bit and separated us.”
Both teams shot a similar percentage from the field, the line and beyond the arc, with the Wolfpack holding a slight 47.2-to-47.1 percent edge overall. State also held a slight edge in the paint, out-rebounding UM by two and scoring 10 more points in the paint.
The game eventually came down to what it always does for the `Canes though – intangibles. Miami had more assists (17-to-11), steals (9-to-6) and blocks (6-to-2) and maybe most importantly, less turnovers (17-to-23).
“The game couldn’t have been more even,” Meier said before she rattled off some game statistics. “What a great basketball game.”