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A Year In Review

The 49th season of Miami women’s basketball is in the books!

The 2020-21 season was full of ups and downs, twists and turns, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Canes preserved. Miami finished the unusual season at 11-11, marking the 12th straight season that it has posted a .500 record or better. The Canes improved upon their ACC record from the previous season, finishing 8-10 in conference play (tied for ninth).

Amidst the highs and lows, the Canes had several memorable moments. Miami tallied five wins over top-60 NET teams, including a season sweep of North Carolina (NET 38). Miami played some of its best basketball in February, recording a three-game win streak to close out the regular season.

Despite being the object of six schedule changes in 2020-21, Miami continued to show up and lace up, becoming one of just three ACC teams to play 18 conference games. All six schedule changes were due to COVID cases/contact tracing from the Canes’ opponents.

Miami was anchored by an experienced and talented upperclassman group this season. The Miami juniors and seniors accounted for 79.3 percent of the Canes’ scoring and 62 percent of the team’s rebounding this season. Five upperclassmen recorded 30-plus assists and five tallied double-digit steals.

Both double-figure scorers on the team (Kelsey Marshall and Destiny Harden) were upperclassmen, while Endia Banks, Harden, Taylor Mason and Naomi Mbandu all averaged four or more rebounds per game.

The senior class was particularly special, with all three active seniors (Banks, Marshall, Mason) ranking in the top five on the team in scoring, led by Marshall (13.2). Banks paced the Canes in assists, averaging 3.1 dishes per game.

With 19 points against North Carolina on Jan. 10, Marshall became the 29th member of the Miami 1,000-point club this season, finishing the year with 1,133 career points.

A prolific 3-point shooter, 63.8 percent of Marshall’s 1,133 points came from beyond the arc. Marshall joined fellow senior Mykea Gray as the only current Canes to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Harden had a breakout year in 2020-21, leading the Canes in rebounding (5.4) and ranking second on the team in scoring (10.7). Harden tallied 10 double-digit outings, including five 20-point efforts.

The forward started 21 of 22 games played in 2020-21 and played some of her best basketball down the stretch. In the final five games of the season, Harden averaged 18.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and posted back-to-back 20-point games.

In Miami’s last game, Harden set new career highs in scoring (27), made field goals (11) and minutes played (39). She was named the ACC Player of the Week on March 1, marking the first ACC weekly honor of her career.

One of the more memorable days of the 2020-21 season came on Dec. 16 when it was announced that the NCAA granted a blanket waiver, making all transfers immediately eligible. No one was happier than junior transfer Karla Erjavec, who was able to suit up and play in Miami’s next game.

Prior to the announcement, Erjavec represented her home country of Croatia at the 2021 FIBA Women’s EuroBasket Qualifiers in November 2020. The guard earned a pair of starts in the competition and tallied four assists and three steals in Croatia’s 80-62 victory over North Macedonia.

 

Looking ahead to next season, the future is bright.

The Canes return their leading scorers from the last two seasons in Gray and Marshall, and bring in six newcomers, including two transfers and four freshmen.

Head coach Katie Meier currently sits at 303 wins in her career at Miami. One more win will make her the all-time winningest coach in Miami program history (men’s or women’s).

Miami great Shenise Johnson (’12) is returning home and will serve as an assistant coach for the Canes. Johnson spent last season on the Miami staff as the coordinator of player development, before playing overseas in Israel during the spring.

The possibilities for the 2021-22 season are limitless with this team.