Junior Riquna Williams has scored more points in a game before. She’s achieved more spectacular stat lines.
But on Friday night at the BankUnited Center the guard outscored the Clemson Tigers through 33 minutes in Miami’s 77-48 victory.
Williams led the 22nd-ranked Hurricanes (16-1, 3-0 ACC) with 29 points, 21 of which came in the first half. She finished 6 of 8 from the three-point line.
“I’ve been in a jam a whole lot. I haven’t been shooting as I should and Coach [Carolyn] Keiger told me to not think so much just go out and have fun and it starts with your defense,” Williams said. “With defense, more points come. Just focus on the defensive end.”
With the victory, Miami moved into first place in the conference standings and has now won 18 in a row at home, 16 overall.
The Hurricanes’ defense held the Tigers (8-10, 1-2 ACC) to just 14 points in the first 20 minutes on 17 percent shooting.
Clemson didn’t score its first point until 16:29 in the first half on junior center Shaniqua Pauldo’s free throw. Miami already led 8-0 and extended its lead to 14-1.
Thirty-five Tigers turnovers resulted in 46 points.
While Clemson came into the game with the best three-point shooting percentage in the conference, it was the Hurricanes with seven from behind the arc through the first half. Clemson made just one.
“Bay Bay can make people cry. She can really just lock you down and you can’t see, can’t breathe and she can funnel people into traffic and show something’s open and close it out real quickly and then all of a sudden it’s disappeared,” head coach Katie Meier said. “She’s the top of the press. The combination of that in our presses is incredible.”
With 3:53 left in the half and the score 29-12, Miami outscored the Tigers 14-2 to take a 43-14 halftime advantage.
UM led by as many as 47 points with a little more than nine minutes left before resting Williams, who threw a backwards pass on one possession, something Meier called “illegal in our system.”
Junior Shenise Johnson, who recently made the Wooden Midseason top-20 list as one of the top collegiate players in women’s basketball, scored 18 points. She went to the bench with 11 minutes remaining.
Johnson and Williams were the only Canes in double figures.
“She [Williams] was mad at for me for resting her. She wanted the triple-double. I’ll walk by and she’ll be like, ‘Ready coach,’” Meier said. “She keeps letting me know as if I forgot about her on the bench. She’ll make her presence known.”
Clemson dropped to 1-6 on the road. Heading into the game, the road team was 5-1 in the series, with the Tigers winning at home in overtime last season.
Senior Sthefany Thomas led the Tigers with 17 points, but was held below her 20-point average in ACC play. She was the lone Clemson player in double digits.
Miami returns to the court to host Boston College (14-3, 1-1 ACC) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Awesome performance,” Meier said. “The team really shared the basketball and found the hot shooter, and that’s what you really expect and hope for in ACC games.”