Survive and Advance: @CanesWBB Tops FGCU, 62-60
62No. 16/16  Miami
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Playing an NCAA Tournament game on its home court for the first time in 24 years, the University of Miami women’s basketball team earned a thrilling 62-60 victory over FGCU Saturday evening at the Watsco Center.
Redshirt senior forward Keyona Hayes scored the final two of her game-high 16 points with 1.5 seconds left to give fourth-seeded and No. 16/16-ranked Miami (24-8, 10-6 ACC) the win over the No. 13-seeded Eagles.
“Faith,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said of how the Hurricanes were able to pull out the victory. “We talked about it before, during pregame . . . Faith is confidence with a little bit of patience, and I said we are going to need patience. It’s not enough just to be confident, there has got to be some trust and some confidence to that patience.”
After FGCU (26-9, 12-2 ASUN) jumped out to an 11-8 advantage at the first media timeout, Miami countered with a 6-0 run to go in front by three. The Eagles scored the final basket of the period and the Hurricanes led by one, 14-13, through 10 minutes of action.
Miami did not allow a point in the second period until there was 5:38 on the clock, making it a stretch of five minutes and 49 seconds during which it did not concede a point. The Hurricanes would go on to push their lead to 13, 28-15, with 3:30 to go before the break. FGCU closed the frame on a 7-0 run and Miami held a 28-22 edge entering the locker room.
The Hurricanes held FGCU to 10-of-34 shooting (29.4 percent) in the first half, including a 2-of-18 (11.1 percent) mark from 3-point range. The Eagles entered the contest averaging 9.7 3-pointers per game, fifth-most in the nation.
Miami scored the first six points of the second half to stretch its lead back to 12, while holding FGCU scoreless for the first three minutes and two seconds of the session. The Eagles finished the period on a 9-4 run in the final two-and-a-half minutes and the Hurricanes’ cushion sat at four, 43-39, entering the last 10 minutes of action.
FGCU tied the game at 51 with 4:22 remaining and then took its first lead since 11-10 with 1:53 to go, grabbing a 54-53 advantage. After the teams exchanged baskets, sophomore forward/center Emese Hof converted on a three-point play with 49.4 second left to put Miami up by two.
Following a free throw by the Eagles, sophomore forward Keyanna Harris, who played a career-high 29 minutes, gave Miami a 60-57 edge with 16.1 by connecting on a pair from the line. Redshirt junior guard Taylor Gradinjan evened the score on a 3-pointer with 8.6 ticks left.
Miami then went back to Hayes, who logged the 14th double-double of her career, on its final offensive play, and she converted down low in the closing seconds. A stellar defensive play at the other end by Harris sealed the scintillating win for the Hurricanes, who are headed to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
“I absolutely was going to run Key, move her around a little bit, because I don’t think anybody was surprised we were going to go inside with that last play,” Meier said of the game-winning basket. “You just have to move her around a little bit and let Emese make a big-time decision, so she could go left or right with the ball.”
Along with leading all scorers, Hayes’ 10 rebounds also paced all players, as she tallied her fifth double-double of the year. Hof finished with a co-season-high 14 points, while senior guard Jessica Thomas had nine points and sophomore guard Laura Cornelius added seven go along with a season-high seven rebounds.
For FGCU, redshirt senior guard Jordin Alexander notched 11 points to lead the team. Redshirt junior guard China Dow and junior forward Rosemarie Julien each chipped in with 10.
Miami finished the game with a 41-26 lead in points in the paint and held a 12-2 edge in second chance points.
“We have some work to do,” Meier said of the mentality entering Monday’s second round contest. “We didn’t play extremely well and we need to play better to advance. A lot of the credit goes to FGCU and what they forced us into. We worked really hard to take a lead there in the first half. We have to take care of business and keep our focus for 40 minutes.”
The Hurricanes will now take on No. 12-seed Quinnipiac Monday at 9 p.m., at the Watsco Center with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line.
MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES
· With the win, Miami is now 14-20 in postseason tournaments, including 6-11 in the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes have four NCAA Tournament wins in the past seven seasons after having two prior in program history.Miami also upped its record to 7-1 at home in postseason play, including 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
· Hayes’ double-double was the first by a Hurricane in the NCAA Tournament since Shawnice “Pepper” Wilson finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds at Iowa on March 24, 2013. In addition, her 63.6 percent (7-of-11) mark from the floor ties for the fifth best in program history in NCAA action (min. 10 FGA).
· Both teams’ leading scorers on the season fouled out of the game. FGCU’s Julien registered her fifth foul with 3:54 remaining and Miami senior guard Adrienne Motley did so with 1:55 on the clock. It was just the third time in her career Motley fouled out of a contest.
· Motley moved past LaToya Cunningham (2005-09) for fifth place on the Hurricanes’ all-time 3-point attempts list, as she now has 374 in her career.
· Junior forward/center Erykah Davenport made her 50th start as a Hurricane, Cornelius eclipsed 150 made field goals and 1,500 minutes played at Miami, Hayes surpassed 450 made field goals and 2,750 minutes played in her career, Hof moved past 200 made field goals and reached50 assists as a collegian, while Thomas eclipsed 1,250 points as a Hurricane.