The Hurricane women’s basketball team came into Saturday night’s game against No. 20 Villanova with hopes of staying in contention in the Big East title race and giving Coach Ferne Labati her 400th victory at the college level.
The ‘Lady Wildcats had other plans in mind, however, and were able to fire up 36 three-pointers and force 17 ‘Canes turnovers to leave the Convocation Center with a 61-55 victory over Miami.
All Big-East guard Trish Juhline led the way for the Wildcats with 15 points, all in the second half. Katie Davis and Nicole Druckenmiller both contributed 12 points in the winning effort.
Yalonda McCormick led the ‘Canes 13 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Shaquana Wilkins contributed seven points and seven rebounds in the loss.
“We went into tonight’s game hoping to not give up three-pointers and make turnovers, but we did both,” Labati said. “It’s a tough loss for us because it was a winnable home game.”
The ‘Canes also had a major scare when their leading scorer and rebounder Tamara James left the game in the second half with a hyper extended knee. Labati is confident that James’s injury wasn’t serious.
“Tamara will be fine after some rest,” Labati said. “She took a hard fall but there was no major injury.”
The ‘Canes looked sloppy from the outset, turning the ball over several times and giving up a barrage of threes to Druckenmiller and Katie Davis. Villanova was able to go into the locker room with a 32-25 lead.
An interesting statistic from the first 20 minutes would be the 22 three-point attempts by the Wildcats compared to the one attempt from the ‘Canes. Despite the difference in three-pointers, Labati felt that the loss had more to do with her team’s overall execution.
“I don’t think the styles of play for each team was the big factor in our loss,” Labati said. “It had more to do with us missing shots. When we miss shots on offense, we tend to give up on defense.”
The ‘Canes came out with more intensity in the second half, and tied the score at 38 after an Alicia Hartlaub field goal. That was as close as Miami would get though, as the Wildcats went on a decisive 13-0 run to put away the home team.
“That was the critical stretch of the game for us,” Labati said. “We went from being tied to down thirteen points in only a couple of minutes, and that can crush a team.”
The key factor in Villanova’s run was Juhline, who found ways to get open for outside shots, as well as earning trips to the foul line.
“Juhline and Davis were able to beat us with backdoor cuts,” Labati said. “They used hard cuts to get good open looks at threes.”
The ‘Canes will look to rebound from the loss tonight in Piscataway, New Jersey, as Miami takes on Rutgers.
“We just need to go on the road and play hard and mentally tough,” Labati said. “In the Big East a team can beat any other team as long as they can match-up with them and adjust to their style of play.”
-You can reach Eric Kalis at firstname.lastname@example.org