The women’s basketball team is officially in their first slump of the season as they dropped their second straight game on Saturday afternoon 76-69 to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
The No. 17 ‘Canes (16-3, 5-3 Big East) fell behind early and could never make a substantial run the rest of the way. Anytime Miami would get close, one of the three Scarlet Knights to score in double figures would shoot down any hopes of the ‘Canes getting a come-from-behind victory.
Point guard Yalonda McCormick led Miami with 23 points as the ‘Canes dropped their second straight home game to a Big East foe after a 59-50 loss against Notre Dame earlier in the week. McCormick sees a common trend in both losses.
“In both games we waited until the end to hustle, and by then it was too late,” she said.
Rutgers jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead, but back to back three-pointers by McCormick and Tamara James tied the ballgame up at 12. On the ensuing play, McCormick stole the ball and was fouled as she scored on a lay-up to give her a traditional three-point play and Miami a 15-12 lead.
Rutgers climbed back on top and at halftime they led 35-30. The ‘Canes came out on a 7-0 run to open up the second half as they held Rutgers scoreless in the opening 4:03.
But the story of the day was how the ‘Canes couldn’t control All-American Cappie Pondexter as she poured in 25 points. Chelsea Newton hit nine of 11 shots and finished with 21 points on the day for the Scarlet Knights. Head Coach Ferne Labati had a simple explanation.
“We just felt that if we could be able to take back about five of our possessions in terms of our decision making, the final score would be in our favor,” Labati said.
Chanivia Broussard scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, but the ‘Canes dug themselves too much of a hole as Rutgers opened its largest lead of the day at 57-46 with 8:21 to play.
“We came out and played too relaxed in the second half when we should have been a lot more intense,” McCormick said.
The ‘Canes never cut it to less than three points the rest of the way as the crowd of 1,547 tried desperately to get the ‘Canes a lead late in the game. The spectators were all over the referees after a clear shot clock violation wasn’t called on Rutgers with a little over two minutes remaining.
Rutgers got the rebound and it subsequently led to two free throws by the Scarlet Knights that gave them a six-point lead and not to mention the valuable time that was lost for the ‘Canes. Labati was less than pleased by the call.
“The shot clock violation that wasn’t called hurt us because we didn’t get the ball,” Labati said. “We worked, worked, worked really hard, and we still didn’t get it.”
The loss to Rutgers is nothing to be ashamed about, as the team was ranked No. 17 in the latest RPI and their 12-7 record is very deceiving. Six of the seven losses came against teams in the top 35 of the RPI. However, any loss to a Big East team is very hard to swallow, especially at home.
The ‘Canes’ schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they return to the court on Sunday, Feb. 8, when they travel to the home of the defending national champions, the Connecticut Huskies. Labati knows that the Big East is extremely tough this season.
“We’re going to have one huge, great Big East tournament because there are just so many great teams in the conference this year,” Labati said.
Douglas Kroll can be contacted at email@example.com.