Putting On a Show
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Through it all, Stephanie Dwyer couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.
She cheered when her daughter, Lashae Dwyer, hit her first bucket of the night on a driving layup early in the second quarter. She laughed when Dwyer lost a shoe and still managed to keep pace with the No. 4 team in the country. And she reveled in the moment when, after the final buzzer sounded, her daughter hugged her younger siblings close while the Hurricanes celebrated their dominant 73-59 win over NC State at the Watsco Center on Thursday night.
In so many ways, it was as memorable a moment as possible for the entire Dwyer family.
Lashae Dwyer put on a show, coming off the bench to score a season-high 18 points. She and her Miami teammates notched a crucial ACC win and earned their second victory over a ranked opponent this season. And it all happened during the Dwyer family’s first visit to Coral Gables to see Lashae play in person, which only made it that much sweeter – for Dwyer, her family and even her teammates.
“Honestly, it’s been a long time coming,” said Stephanie Dwyer, who – along with Dwyer’s siblings and aunts – flew from her home in Toronto to South Florida hours before Thursday’s game. “Lashae’s been so far. Previous to Miami, she was in Tennessee [for high school] and she essentially graduated and went straight to Miami. That happened during the time of COVID, so that really prevented us from being here for so long. Now, we were able to gather everybody up that we could, and we came, and it was just amazing. Amazing. She played so well.”
Said Hurricanes head coach Katie Meier, “These [four] Canadian players [on our roster] sacrifice a lot. They couldn’t go much further away from home. … It was a big moment for her. But I don’t think Shae was just doing it for her family, though. I think Shae was literally doing it for her team and wanted to be a great leader in front of her family. … And she ended up having one of the best games of her career.”
For Dwyer, stepping up as one of Miami’s leaders began long before she took the floor Thursday.
After a tough stretch of conference games that saw the Hurricanes come up short against three ranked foes, Meier noticed that Dwyer and fellow juniors Jasmyne Roberts and Ja’Leah Williams became especially vocal in practice, urging teammates to stay focused, even amidst Miami’s struggles.
On Thursday, Roberts, and Dwyer – along with transfer Shayeann Day-Wilson – each finished in double figures. In addition, Dwyer totaled six rebounds, a pair of assists and two steals.
She was 8 of 12 from the field and connected on two of her three shots from 3-point range, sparking the Hurricanes with her family cheering from the stands.
“When you get down like we’ve been down, you just go to your competitors,” Meier said. “So, we had a staff meeting, a staff discussion and I was like, ‘Who are our top competitors?’ and Shae is an incredible competitor. Ja’Leah is an incredible competitor. So, we went with the most competitive kids and said, ‘That’s what’s going to turn us around because we don’t like how we’ve been competing.’ They made everybody else kind of get competitive and they did a great job. … Shae’s a super-awesome kid. She doesn’t share a lot, so people don’t know her as much as Jasmyne and Ja’Leah, but Shae’s a wonderful human being. She’s loyal. She’s fair. She gets a little bit down on herself [sometimes] … but she’s just trying to do better for her team, and she really rallied them today. She’s a great player. A great player.”
Said Roberts of Dwyer’s performance, “Seeing her play like that tonight felt really good. Shae’s been my girl since freshman year, and I know she doesn’t get to see her family a lot, with them being in Canada. Now they come down here for the first time in her whole college career and they’re able to see her perform so well. That made me happy. I know how much family means to her and how much she loves her family, so it was good. I was hyping her up the whole game. It was fun.”
As much fun as Thursday may have been for Dwyer and her Miami teammates, the guard made it abundantly clear after the win that there is still plenty of work to be done.
This win, she said, was one she and the Hurricanes could build on as they set their sights on the rest of their ACC schedule, where games against the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Pittsburgh, and rival Florida State still loom.
“This was big. I mean, it’s big. But we have to get over it. We’ve got another tough opponent in North Carolina coming up,” Dwyer said. “And we just have to keep grinding it up and keep going up on everyone after this.”
And though her family will be cheering her on the rest of the way from back home in Toronto, she knows she’ll have their support – and having them on-hand for one of her best performances of the season was something she won’t be forgetting any time soon.
“It was amazing, especially having my younger brother and sister here,” Dwyer said. “They’re twins and they’ve never actually seen me play in person before and they’ve never been to America before, so it was a big blessing. Seeing my mom and my family smiling and having a good time, that was a blessing for sure.”
Added Stephanie Dwyer, “This was very, very special. They all look up to her. They aspire to be like her, especially my younger daughter. She aspires to be just like her. So, it was very special for all of them to see her live in action, see how essential she is and just cheer her on. Then of course at the end of the game, to have her greet them on the court, that was just amazing. … The fact that she’s now at The U and able to pursue not only her dream of playing basketball at a higher level, but also getting her education at a higher level, you can’t ask for anything more.”