No. 10 Canes push for second straight tourney

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Senior Riquna Williams of Pahokee, Fla. dribbles the ball against Alyssa Thomas during the homegame against Maryland. University of Miami won 75-63. Zach Beeker//The Miami Hurricane

The Hurricanes women’s basketball team has something in common with the weather in Coral Gables: As the winter season comes and goes, both keep getting hotter.

Following a tough 65-63 road loss against North Carolina to kick off 2012, Miami (15-3, 4-1 ACC) has reeled off four straight ACC wins in monumental fashion as they try for their second straight NCAA tournament appearance.  They have gone 10-2 since the start of December and seem primed to make another strong run as the ACC portion of their schedule heats up.

The Canes’ current four-game winning streak includes back-to-back victories against Maryland and Florida State that reflect how far the program has come since head coach Katie Meier took over.

Against Florida State this past Sunday, senior guard Shenise Johnson found a wide open Stefanie Yderstrom for the game-clinching three-pointer with 17 seconds.

That shot gave Miami a 60-57 win over the Seminoles. The Canes led 41-22 early in the second half, but FSU was able to close the gap and tie things up at 57 in the final minute.

“I believe it my team, and it was a great pass from [Johnson],” Yderstrom said. “She said before we came in here that she knew I was going to hit it.”

It was the first time that Miami won in Tallahassee since 1987.

“You mean to say I was a freshman in college the last time we won here?” Meier said jokingly after being asked about the streak. “It was a huge streak. At halftime, I said we’ve been up 15 or 16 in Tallahassee before and not won. A lot of demons, and they were still on our back a little bit. But [Yderstrom] exorcised those demons with that big shot and [Johnson’s] great assist.”

Johnson finished with 24 points that night, in the process becoming just the fourth Hurricane in program history to pass the 2,000-point plateau for her career.

“I’m happy it was against FSU. I haven’t beaten them in my whole career inside here,” she said of the milestone. “It’s just been a fun career. A fun rivalry.”

Just a few nights before, the Canes won their 34th consecutive game at the BankUnited Center in dramatic fashion against fifth-ranked Maryland. The win not only extended a program record for home wins, but was also the first victory against an AP top-five team in Miami’s history.

“It was great,” said senior Riquna Williams, who recorded a career-high 34 points in the win. “I’m kind of happy coach didn’t tell us, because we didn’t feel any pressure. It just felt like a normal game.”

As hot as the Canes have been over the past few games, however, by no means does the schedule get any easier from here.

Miami has rematches against Maryland, Florida State and North Carolina, and the team has yet to face Duke, the ACC’s other co-champion a season ago.

Don’t expect Meier to let her team relax just yet.

“We’re still putting it together,” she said. “We’re still working our combos in. The ACC is going to teach you a bunch of lessons, and the journey is hopefully in the march with this team.”

 

Upcoming Games:

Thursday at Virginia – 7 p.m.

Jan. 23 vs. Virginia Tech – 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 vs. Wake Forest – 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 at Boston College – 5 p.m.

Feb. 5 vs Clemson – 2 p.m.

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