Williams' 36 Leads No. 9 Miami Past No. 11 Rutgers, 92-81
Dec. 5, 2011
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)– Riquna Williams said her stomach was still burning nearly an hour after the final whistle. Shenise Johnson limped with every step. Miami coach Katie Meier said she was looking for some oxygen.
A comeback for the ages left No. 9 Miami drained – but still perfect at home.
Williams scored a career-high 36 points, Johnson added 25 points and 12 rebounds and the Hurricanes knocked No. 11 Rutgers from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 92-81 double-overtime win Monday night, Miami’s 28th straight in its own building. The Hurricanes trailed by 16 points with 17 minutes left in the second half, then started a most improbable rally against one of the nation’s top defensive clubs.
“You’ve got to be really cocky and have some really confident kids to think that you’re coming back from that one,” Meier said. “You really do. Especially when you look over on the other bench and it’s Rutgers, one of the best defensive teams in the history of women’s basketball.”
A clash of styles – Miami’s offense vs. Rutgers’ defense – was all Scarlet Knights for the first 25 minutes. Rutgers (8-1) was up 40-24 early in the second half, and Meier acknowledged afterward that she thought the Hurricanes were in real trouble.
Miami outscored Rutgers 68-41 the rest of the way.
“I don’t think we played scared at all,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “I don’t think we played very smart.”
The Scarlet Knights got a layup from Erica Wheeler with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and another game-tying shot from Betnijah Laney just before the buzzer and sending it to send it to a second OT.
But Williams took over for Miami in the second OT, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to get the Hurricanes going, and they survived. It was the first time Rutgers allowed 90 points since Jan. 2, 2003, and given the way the first 25 minutes of the game went, no one would have figured that was happening Monday night.
Of course, the next 25 minutes were the ones that told the story.
“Awesome game,” Johnson said. “My heart rate is still pumping. Credit goes to Rutgers. It was just a fun, fun game.”
April Sykes scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Rutgers, Erica Wheeler scored 13 and Khadijah Rushdan added 10.
Miami trailed for all but 2:35 of regulation, and still had plenty of chances to win before the overtimes. Johnson went 2 for 4 from the foul line in the final 38 seconds of regulation, so the Hurricanes’ lead was never larger than two – giving Rutgers life.
The Scarlet Knights took advantage. Taking possession with 10.7 seconds left in regulation, Rutgers got the ball down low to Oliver. She missed a layup, but Wheeler was there for the putback with 1.5 seconds to play in regulation, tying the game at 63.
“We made a couple mistakes down the stretch,” Wheeler said. “But it’s a learning experience. We definitely are getting better from this situation.”
Stefanie Yderstrom’s 3-pointer gave the Hurricanes the lead with 1:47 left in the first overtime. She appeared to cramp up on the next possession, so Williams simply waited for her chance, connecting from beyond the arc to push the Miami lead to 71-67. And once again, Rutgers rallied – Sykes’ 3 with a half-minute to play got the Scarlet Knights to 73-72, and when Laney knotted it, the Rutgers bench leaped for joy.
It was the Scarlet Knights’ final celebration of the night.
“They’ve got to grow up – yesterday,” Stringer said, unhappy that the chance was wasted.
Rutgers came into the game having allowed only 70 points once – in the season opener – and on a six-game streak of not allowing any more than 52 points. Opponents were shooting 31 percent and committing more than 20 turnovers a game against the Scarlet Knights through eight games, so the Hurricanes knew exactly what to expect.
So predictably, Rutgers’ man-to-man gave Miami fits.
But the Hurricanes did little to help their own cause, missing at least nine shots near the rim in a 9-minute span of the first half alone, falling behind 31-22 going into the locker room – after the Scarlet Knights held them to 27 percent shooting. And when Rutgers started the second half on a 9-2 run, capped by a jumper from Sykes, the lead was 40-24 with 17:23 left.
With that, Meier called timeout, and something clicked, just in time.
“Gutsy,” Meier said. “How are you gutsy when you’re down 16? … They were missing free throws they never miss, missing layups they never miss, and somehow still had the confidence. That’s beyond me. That’s them.”
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