@MiamiWBB Comeback Effort Ends Just Shy
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – A furious comeback attempt fell just short for the University of Miami against Middle Tennessee at the Murphy Center Monday night, as the Hurricanes dropped their road opener, 53-48.
The Hurricanes trailed 27-12 at halftime and could not seem to find a way to get their shots to fall, despite getting good looks. However, that all changed in the second half, as Miami (1-1) came out and dominated the final 20 minutes of play.
“It was a train wreck, our shooting percentage in the first half, and so we wanted an opportunity to be able to come back from it, regroup at halftime, make some adjustments, and get a little bit more energy in the defensive end because we could at least control that,” UM head coach Katie Meier said. “I didn’t think we were disjointed particularly on offense the first half, the ball just really didn’t go in and it’s very hard for us to then set our presses and stuff when we’re not scoring.”
The Hurricanes forced shot clock violations on the Blue Raiders’ first two possessions of the half and went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to six.
Sophomore guard Jessica Thomas led the charge, scoring nine points in a two and a half minute stretch partially during Miami’s 9-0 surge.
Soon after, it was redshirt freshman Nigia Greene who took over and went on a personal 7-2 run in just over a minute to trim the MTSU (1-1) lead to five at 39-34.
Thomas then reasserted her dominance, hitting her third three-pointer of the half and scoring a tough bucket at the rim to make it a 12-2 Miami run, evening the score at 39 with 8:46 to go.
“She played phenomenally,” Meier said of Thomas’ second half showing. “. . . I didn’t want to spend all halftime talking about how bad we were, we just moved forward and I think she did a great job with her mentality, just moving forward and just being aggressive.”
Middle Tennessee was then able to halt the Hurricane momentum, scoring seven consecutive points to build a 46-39 advantage.
Miami would not be deterred. The Hurricanes responded with nine of the next 11 points to even the score, including an offensive rebound and follow-up basket by redshirt senior forward Jassany Williams to tie the game at 48 with 36 seconds left.
MTSU redshirt junior Brea Edwards then connected on a three-pointer just two seconds later to give the Blue Raiders the lead back. After the Hurricanes did not convert on their next possession, they fouled the Blue Raiders’ Shanice Cason with 13 seconds to go.
The senior guard missed both of her attempts and the Hurricanes got a nice look at a three-pointer at the other end, but senior forward Necole Sterling’s shot was just off the mark. MTSU added a pair of free throws for the final tally.
“We got it to the point where it was anybody’s ball game and they hit a big shot,” Meier said. “We hit some big shots, we executed great looks at the end and I’m proud of that for a team that really hadn’t played together, [in a] pressure situation, hostile environment. We got pretty much every look we wanted at the end, honestly. Hit a couple and then I thought Necole’s shot was awesome.”
Thomas finished with 17 points, while redshirt junior Michelle Woods added 11 and Greene had 10. The totals for Thomas and Greene were both career highs.
For Middle Tennessee, sophomore guard China Dow led the way with 18 points and sophomore guard Olivia Jones contributed 17.
“We went for it, we absolutely went for this game and played our guts out in that second half,” Meier said. “[Middle Tennessee] is a team that wins a lot of games in this building and one or two plays right there and we had it. So, to be able to come back from really a shockingly bad first half performance, to be able to come back, look each other in the eye, regroup, go back out there and fight with pride, it says a lot about this team. I like character, we just got to get more guts.”
The Hurricanes will next face North Florida Friday at 8:00 p.m. in Coral Gables, Fla. at the BankUnited Center.
MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES
- Eleven Hurricanes saw action in the game
- Miami held MTSU scoreless for a stretch of 7:02 in the first half of play
- The Hurricanes reached the bonus with over 10 minutes left in the first half
- Miami forced 25 turnovers and had nine steals
- The Hurricanes shot 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from three-point range in the second half
- Jessica Thomas scored 15 points in the second half, matching her previous career high for a full game. She also set career highs with six made field goals and 16 field goal attempts. The sophomore’s 29 minutes played matched her top mark.
- Miami went 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line in the second half
- Michelle Woods was 7-of-13 at the free throw line, setting new careers high for both makes and attempts from the stripe