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Thomas Scores Career-High 18 in @MiamiWBB Win

Thomas Scores Career-High 18 in @MiamiWBB Win

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami became the second team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to reach five conference victories Wednesday night.

Miami (15-4, 5-1 ACC) used its usual strong defense to take down Virginia 67-58 at the BankUnited Center for its 13th win in the last 15 games.

Virginia (13-6, 3-3 ACC) scored the first 10 points of the game, but then the Miami offense began to click. The Hurricanes went on a 16-7 run to quickly cut their deficit to one.

“I didn’t call a timeout early and I was considering whether I should or not, but I thought that it was a flow and rhythm kind of deal and we were still a little bit flat,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “We don’t like to lose so I’m sure we had a little bit of a hangover from that. I just thought, ‘Let me just let them play it out if we could get the tempo in our favor.’ [At] the [media] timeout we solved tempo and that was our problem, so I didn’t call one and I’m glad I didn’t because it showed great faith. The substitutions with Michelle [Woods], Erykah [Davenport] and Khaila Prather really changed our energy.”

The 16-7 stretch for Miami included a three-pointer by Suriya McGuire, as well as an impressive finish at the rim by the senior guard.

Freshman forward Erykah Davenport’s post play was huge for the Hurricanes in the first half. The Tucker, Ga. native recorded seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, matching her career high for a full game. Three of her rebounds came at the offensive end.

Miami trailed 27-25 at halftime, but the Hurricanes’ play around the rim was quite impressive.

Despite Virginia using five players 6-foot-1 or above, the Hurricanes did not allow a single point in the paint in the first half and scored 16 of their own. The quintet combined to make just one shot before the break.

“That’s not typical us. I think one thing was we didn’t settle. We did a lot of cutbacks, so they were points in the paint,” Meier said. “They weren’t necessarily post points, but they were cutbacks and dribble attacks.”

Suriya McGuire led a balanced first half scoring attack for Miami with six points, while four other Hurricanes had four points each at the break.

Sophomore guard Jessica Thomas’ layup to open the second half scoring tied the game for the first time since it was 0-0 to start. Virginia responded with a quick 8-0 run, but the Hurricanes immediately stormed back, and it was redshirt junior guard Michelle Woods who led the charge.

First, Woods found sophomore guard Adrienne Motley down low and hit her with a beautiful pass that led to two points.

Then the Naples, Fla. native then scored seven consecutive points in under a minute and 10 seconds and her three-point play with 15:52 to go gave Miami its first lead of the night, 36-35.

“Chelle came in, got the momentum going,” Jessica Thomas said. “Everybody started playing for Chelle. Everybody started playing for each other and after that we were just feeding off each other. Everybody had that confidence. She got people involved.”​

After some back-and-forth action, the score was even at 45 with 10:05 to play. Then, Miami took over. 

The Hurricanes scored nine straight points to take full control of the game. The stretch included a three-pointer right in front of the Miami bench by redshirt freshman Nigia Greene that drew big cheers from both players and fans.

Miami would not relinquish its lead the rest of the way, winning 67-58 for its fifth ACC win of the season.

Jessica Thomas led all players with a career-high 18 points as well as four steals. Thomas also had just one turnover in her 25 minutes on the court.

“I was really nervous because we had so many people in foul trouble and she’s the one I chose to trust and put back in [the game in] the first half with two fouls. I thought she had really fresh legs,” Meier said. “You could see where Chelle was getting a little bit tired, Ray was getting a little bit tired and we needed a go-to with Mot out [with an ankle injury that led to her missing some time]. And Jessica Thomas just stepped right up. She’s got great confidence and great character. She’s just really fun to coach.”

Michelle Woods finished with 12 points and a season-high five assists, while Suriya McGuire added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Junior guard Faith Randolph had 14 points for the Cavaliers, but shot 5-of-15. Senior center Sarah Imovbioh also scored 14 points and she had eight rebounds. The ACC’s leading rebounder, this was just the fourth time in 19 games Imovbioh has had fewer than nine rebounds.

Miami’s bench outscored Virginia’s 24-4 and also had a 16-8 edge in rebounds as well as 7-0 in assists

The Hurricanes will hit the road this weekend for their third consecutive Sunday road game. Miami will play at fourth-ranked Louisville Jan. 25 at 5:00 p.m. and the game can be seen on both RSN and ESPN3. SUN Sports will carry the action locally in South Florida.

MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES

  • Miami’s five starters were Suriya McGuire, Adrienne Motley, Necole Sterling, Jessica Thomas, and Jassany Williams. This is fourth consecutive game that has been the starting five for the Hurricanes.
  • The all-time series between Miami and Virginia is now 8-6 in favor of the Cavaliers, but the Hurricanes have won five of the last six meetings.
  • Katie Meier’s career record moves to 254-170 in 14 seasons as a head coach.
  • Meier is now 178-125 in 10 years at the helm of the Hurricanes.
  • After the first four minutes of the game, Miami outscored Virginia by 19 points.
  • Miami allowed just one second chance point in the first half.
  • Adrienne Motley eclipsed 200 rebounds and 650 points in her college career.
  • Jessica Thomas scored double figures for the eighth time this season after doing so eight times all of 2013-14. Thomas also reached 50 made three-pointers in her college career.
  • Thomas’ 18 points surpassed her prior career best of 17 (at Middle Tennessee, 11/17/14). She also equaled her career high with six made field goals (multiple times, most recently vs. Illinois State, 11/28/14).
  • This was the first time Jessica Thomas has scored 15-plus points in a home game and the first time she scored over 12 points against an ACC opponent.
  • This was the 50th appearance as a Hurricane for both Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas.
  • Erykah Davenport’s nine rebounds set a new career best, passing the previous high she set in the most recent game (at Duke, 1/18/15).
  • Michelle Woods surpassed 400 points as a collegian and her five assists eclipsed her prior season high of four (multiple times, most recently vs. LSU, 12/29/14).
  • Freshman forward Khaila Prather matched her career high with six rebounds (multiple times, most recently at Virginia Tech, 1/11/15).
  • Prather also set a career high with 22 minutes (previous 21, vs. Florida A&M, 12/28/14).