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WBB Tops Stephen F. Austin, 81-60, in Home Opener

WBB Tops Stephen F. Austin, 81-60, in Home Opener

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In front of a boisterous crowd of 3,079 fans at the Watsco Center, the University of Miami women’s basketball team defeated Stephen F. Austin, 81-60, in its first home game of the regular season.

Mykea Gray turned in a sensational performance in the Preseason WNIT opener for No. 25/24 Miami (2-0). The sophomore guard totaled a game-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including a 5-of-8 mark from 3-point range, setting career highs in makes in both categories.

“That was a very mature performance from Mykea. Everything she did resulted in points for Miami; the competitor in her was just out there playing,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “She wasn’t thinking of herself as a scorer, she was just competing. Because she was competing and so alert, she was able to score a lot.”

The Hurricanes shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the opening period, including redshirt junior guard Laura Cornelius making a pair of shots beyond the arc, to lead by as many as 11 points. Stephen F. Austin (0-1) closed on a 5-0 run to make it 22-16 through 10 minutes.

Miami continued its strong 3-point shooting in the second quarter, making four of its first six attempts of the frame to move to 8-of-11. After the Ladyjacks evened the score at 22, Miami outscored them by 13 points, 21-8, the rest of the session and took a 43-30 lead into the locker room.

The Hurricanes ended the half with a 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) mark from 3-point range, while the Ladyjacks went 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) beyond the arc before the break. Gray scored 14 points in the opening half, while Stephen F. Austin senior guard Chanell Hayes totaled 15 points and went 5-of-6 on 3-pointers.

“I could not believe it. They wouldn’t let us establish ourselves inside and so we had to rely on the three a little bit,” Meier said of the first-half 3-point shooting. “Then, defensively, we were still trying to use our size and they were a little bit more perimeter-based; even their center was shooting threes. So, that was the game. The game was in the balance of the threes and I was happy to have the lead we had at halftime because I thought we played extremely well; we just couldn’t put them away.”

Gray scored 11 points in the third period alone, helping Miami extend its lead up to 23 points. The Hurricanes went on to take a 62-40 edge into the last frame.

The Ladyjacks were unable to pull any closer than 17 in the fourth quarter and Miami registered a 21-point victory. It marked the first time Miami scored 80 points in back-to-back games since last season on Jan. 28 at Virginia Tech and Feb. 4 at North Carolina. The Hurricanes last reached 80 in their first two games of a campaign in 2010-11.

Redshirt junior forward Beatrice Mompremier finished with 14 points and a co-game-high seven rebounds. Senior forward/center Emese Hof also pulled down seven boards and set a career high with five blocked shots, the most by a Miami player since Erykah Davenport logged the same amount on Nov. 21, 2015 at Loyola Chicago.

Cornelius concluded the game with nine points and a career-high eight assists, the most by any Hurricane since Endia Banks had eight on Dec. 10, 2017 against Kentucky.

“I feel like I have two coaches out on the court when Laura and Emese are out there together,” Meier said of the Dutch duo. “. . . I will say this as often as anyone will hear it: [Emese] is one of the best defensive players in the world. I’ve seen her play in world championships and I know that is true.”

Hayes paced Stephen F. Austin with 19 points, while freshman guard Heaven Hamlin added 15 in her collegiate debut.
 

Miami, which trailed for just 14 seconds, finished with a 30-14 advantage in points in the paint and did not allow any fast-break points for the second straight outing.

The Hurricanes will be back in action Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Watsco Center in the Preseason WNIT quarterfinals against either Hartford or Morgan State.

To keep up with the University of Miami women’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesWBB on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

MIAMI HURRICANES POSTGAME NOTES

– This was Miami’s first win against Stephen F. Austin, evening the all-time series at 1-1 after the Hurricanes dropped the opening matchup in 1990.
– Friday’s game marked the first time the Hurricanes have appeared in the Preseason WNIT, which will consist of either two or three additional games.
– After shooting 13-of-20 from 3-point range in the second half Tuesday at FIU and then going 9-of-16 in the first half Friday, the Hurricanes posted a 22-of-36 clip (61.1 percent) over a 40-minute stretch.
– Miami’s nine first-half 3-pointers were its most before the break since shooting 9-of-17 on Nov. 16, 2016 against Charlotte.
– Cornelius reached 450 points at Miami, Gray surpassed 400 points as a collegian and sophomore guard Taylor Mason eclipsed 50 rebounds in her career.