The Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball team has not been able to figure out a way to close out games, and it hurt them again Saturday.
Six turnovers in the final three minutes allowed the host Boston College Eagles to close out the game on a 13-0 run en route to an 84-77 victory. The ‘Canes led by six points after a Tamara James jumper with three minutes left on the clock, but had trouble against the Eagles full court press — throwing the ball away on inbound passes several times.
“On inbound plays, the girls knew where they were supposed to be,” head coach Ferne Labati said. “They just were not coming to the ball. Those turnovers really hurt us.”
Saturday’s contest continued a troubling trend for the ‘Canes. In its last two games, Miami blew an eight-point halftime lead against Seton Hall, eventually losing in overtime. Again Saturday, the ‘Canes lead for much of the contest, but could not close the deal.
“I don’t really know why we struggle when we have the lead late in games,” senior guard Meghan Saake said. “It could be a combination of overexcitement and miscommunication down the stretch. We get comfortable with a lead and allow teams to come back on us, rather than putting them away.”
In her last regular season road game, Saake recorded a team high 23 points on 10-17 shooting while collecting four rebounds and five assists. Saake, the 2001 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, showed why she won that award by also recording a block shot and five steals.
“Meghan Saake would be a great asset to any championship team,” Labati said. “She is fully dedicated to the game and it is great to coach a player like her. She gave us four years of dedication and hard work.”
Freshman guard Tamara James, who leads the Big East in scoring, contributed with 22 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Yolanda McCormick had 13 points and eight assists, but that was not enough to overcome the Eagles attack.
Boston College, second in the Big East conference in shooting percentage, kept hitting shots all day, shooting 65.4 percent in the first half and 56.9 percent for the game.
“Boston College is a very balanced team,” Labati said. “They are a good shooting team both inside and from the perimeter. (Becky) Gottstein and (Amber) Jacobs really hurt us today.”
Jacobs, a guard, scored a game high 28 points for the Eagles. She was 12-18 from the field and 4-6 from three-point range on the day. Gottstein, a power forward, took care of the work in the paint, scoring 24 points while pulling down a game high, nine rebounds.
“We needed to get a hand in Jacobs face because she wouldn’t miss,” Saake said. “Gottstein is just really strong inside and we needed to put a body on her.”
The loss dropped the ‘Canes to 15-11 on the season and put their NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy. However, they do have one regular season game left against Georgetown at the Convocation Center and the Big East Tournament in New Jersey to show the selection committee what they can do. The winner of the Big East Tournament gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
“The season is not over yet,” Labati said. “If we have to win the Big East Tournament to make the NCAA’s, then that is what we will try to do,” Labati said.
Darren Grossman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org