The women’s basketball team just couldn’t get over the hump on Monday night at the Convocation Center. The Hurricanes (12-12, 4-7 ACC) lost a heartbreaker to No. 21 North Carolina State (18-5, 7-3 ACC) 71-68 in front of 584 fans.
After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first six minutes of the game, Miami was able to cut into the lead and only trailed the Wolfpack by one point at halftime.
In a game that featured 16 lead changes, Miami could never put a run together and grab a big lead. With N.C. State leading 66-63 with less than two minutes to play, sophomore Imani Dhahabu scored two of her career-high 15 points on a layup and drew a foul as well. After hitting the free throw, the game was tied at 66.
Dhahabu then stole a pass on the next possession and with 48 seconds to play junior Tamara James scored to put Miami ahead 68-66. North Carolina State missed a three on the next possession, but the ball went out of bounds off Miami, which led to another shot for the Wolfpack’s Rachel Stockdale. This time she buried what would turn into the game winning shot.
After winning four of its last five games prior to the loss, Head Coach Ferne Labati knows the team will have to shake this one off.
“It’s February and you have to erase things and move on,” Labati said. “You can’t pout because it is what it is.”
After being named the ACC Player of the Week for the second straight week, James led Miami with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds. Senior Yalonda McCormick pitched in with 20 points and four assists and became only the second player in UM history to reach the 1,000-point and 500 assists plateau.
“I’m very happy for Yalonda,” Labati said. “Tonight was probably her best game of the year, as she’s had a great assist-to-turnover ratio and she’s shooting the ball extremely well.”
Despite shooting a season-high 58 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range, the ‘Canes were out rebounded 35-25 and finished with 22 turnovers. The Hurricanes also managed to go to the free-throw line just three times.
Billie McDowell led all scorers for the Wolfpack with 26 points and added six rebounds.
“Our biggest breakdown was on the boards,” Labati said. “If we grab some rebounds it gives us opportunities and also we had too many turnovers that didn’t allow us to get those opportunities to score in the second half.”
The Hurricanes return to action on Thursday when they travel to Durham, N.C., to take on No. 4 Duke.
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at email@example.com.