It was a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions over the past four days for Miami basketball.
Head coach Katie Meier and the struggling women’s basketball team picked up their first ACC win of the season against N.C. State, 72-60, while head coach Frank Haith and company lost an overtime heartbreaker last night to Virginia Tech, 88-83.
“We have been talking about greatness,” Meier said. “Every practice and every game, we talk about it. We are searching for greatness.”
The Hurricanes (11-8, 1-4) entered Thursday with a 0-8 all-time record against the Wolfpack, dating back to 1981.
For the fourth time in her last six games, freshman guard Riquna Williams led the Canes in scoring with 18 points and finished 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Freshman forward Shenise Johnson also continued her stellar play by picking up another double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“They are special. We have to keep having them play like that,” Meier said. “They bring so much to this team.”
Williams took control down the stretch when the Wolfpack (8-11, 0-4) began to rally.
After N.C. State cut Miami’s 16-point lead to four at 64-60, Williams slashed through the defense to get to the foul line. She sealed the victory with her free throws in the final minute.
“Teams are going to come back, I knew that,” Meier said. “This is the ACC. The ACC has the best teams in the nation, but we were tough as nails. We showed greatness.”
Miami next plays at 7 p.m. Thursday to face a host Georgia Tech (14-5, 2-3) team that defeated third-ranked North Carolina.
With a key ACC win against rival Florida State (16-4, 3-2) on Tuesday, the men’s team ran into Virginia Tech, who recently defeated top-ranked Wake Forest.
The Hurricanes had opportunities to win, but failed to put away the feisty Hokies (14-5, 4-1) in overtime and fell 88-83.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Haith said. “I’m proud of our kids’ effort and intensity. It was a hard fought ACC game and a really good basketball game. Just didn’t go our way at the end.”
UM led by four points in extra time off a layup by junior forward Dwayne Collins, but Virginia Tech tied the game on a four-point possession. Sophomore guard Malcolm Delaney, who finished with a career-high 29 points, scored after two consecutive offensive rebounds off a free throw.
“I thought in overtime the offensive rebound when we were up four was huge,” Haith said. “We gave them life and they scored. We need to come down with those. We needed to stop them.”
Collins scored two of his game-high 23 points to give the lead back to the Hurricanes before Delaney knocked down a corner 3-pointer.
The trio of Delaney, sophomore forward Jeff Allen, and senior forward A.D. Vassallo combined for 74 of Virginia Tech’s 83 points.
Senior forward Brian Asbury contributed a season-high 21 points, including the game-tying shot from behind the arc with 25 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, senior captain Jack McClinton scored the first points, but was shut out for the remainder of the period and finished with 20 points.
“We are going to have games that go down to the wire,” said Haith. “We can’t dwell on a loss too long. We’ve got to move forward and grind it out. We are in great shape.”
Miami travels to N.C. State for a 7 p.m. ACC showdown Tuesday.