The Miami Hurricanes postseason success in the first three rounds of the WNIT was based on a balanced scoring attack and complete team effort.
But on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Hall, Miami (21-13) went back to their traditional ways as their two sophomore guards carried the Canes to victory over Providence (19-15) 73-65. The win advances the Canes to the Final Four of the WNIT.
“We are thrilled and I couldn’t be happier for my team and staff right now,” head coach Katie Meier said. “It’s been such a fun run this far, we just knew we were not going to lose this game.”
This extends UM’s magical postseason run, the best in program history.
UM’s dynamic scoring duo of Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams accounted for 57 of the team’s 73 points.
“When the two of them have a big night, you know Miami is going to be tough to beat. They feed off each other and give one another a rest,” Meier said.
Johnson led the way with 33 points and 10 rebounds notching her 10th double-double of the season. She scored 15 of the team’s first 19 points and willed the team to victory.
“We came out flat in the first seven minutes and then [Johnson] put this team on her back,” Meier said of her All-American candidate. “She just played special basketball and she was not going to let this team lose. She made some unbelievable shots.”
The Canes were able to respond on the road despite the fact that the game should have been at the BankUnited Center. The Canes were the higher seed, but due to the 2010 Accepted Students Open House which was already scheduled well in advance for Sunday, the Canes had to play at Providence. The journey to the northeast did not rattle the orange and green though; this was Miami’s first road victory in over two months.
Williams, known to be a streaky shooter, caught fire at the end of the first half hitting four consecutive three pointers. The two players were 11-for-16 in the first half while the rest of the team was 0-for-13 from the floor.
The Hurricanes played with a stifling perimeter defense as Providence was an abysmal 2-for-14 from three-point range.
“Kudos to the coaching staff for a great job scouting,” Meier said of her assistant coaches. “At the beginning of the second half Providence couldn’t even get a shot off. We defended the umbrella perfectly.”
Miami had a one-point lead at the half and came out of the locker room with an extra pep in their step. They went on a 14-0 to lead by as many as 15, but the Lady Friars had an answer. They cut the lead to as little as three points with four minutes left. But the Hurricanes found a way to win, something they struggled with in the regular season.
“We matured and never lost composure,” Meier said. “I had Providence fans come up to me after the game saying ‘is Miami really that young?’ Because they looked like veterans.”
The Hurricanes travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to face the Michigan Wolverines Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.