The Miami women’s basketball team started its season in style on Monday night.
UM (1-0) cruised to a 53-point win, 77-24, over North Florida (0-1) at the BankUnited Center. The 24 points were the fewest Miami has ever allowed against an NCAA Division I opponent.
“I think they’ve all bought into this project,” coach Katie Meier said of her team. “We’re rooting for each other. We’re cheering for each other … nobody was trying to ‘get theirs’ tonight and that’s a real compliment to my leadership [from]the three captains.”
Senior forward Morgan Stroman was the best player on the court, finishing with 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. Sophomore guard Michelle Woods came off the bench to lead the Canes in scoring with 19 points, shooting 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
However, the story of the night was the suffocating Miami defense. North Florida shot a dismal 14 percent from the field – making just seven shots – and 5.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The Ospreys made just two shots in the second half and were outscored in the paint 42-4.
“Defense, that’s just working hard,” Stroman said. “It’s about your effort and getting into the other team’s grill, I guess, but you really can’t teach it. So you just go out there and you work hard.”
North Florida scored the first two points of the game, but Miami then rattled off 14 in a row. The contest was never in doubt. The Hurricanes led 36-12 at halftime, but Meier was not pleased with her team’s performance in the first 20 minutes, noting the effort, enthusiasm and chemistry were lacking
“Halftime wasn’t pretty, but you guys know me well enough to know I’m a passionate coach, but they didn’t get my passion at halftime because if they’re not going to play with passion, I’m not going to coach with passion,” Meier said. “So it was a heck of a shift coming out, and I thought the second half we played a little bit more like the team I see every day in practice, and recognized and it wasn’t about our opponent tonight. It was about our identity and figuring it out.”
One major change in the second half was Woods’ play. The Naples, Fla., native had 17 of her 19 points in the second session, including all five of her 3-pointers.
With go-to senior guard Stefanie Yderstrom (eight points, 1-of-7 shooting) struggling through a rough shooting night, Woods’ performance became much more important.
“I needed to step up and hit down those big shots if Stef’s having an off game,” Woods said.
Yderstrom, Woods and the Hurricanes will take the court at 7 p.m. Monday against Richmond in their first road matchup of the season. Miami returns to the BankUnited Center on Sunday for a 2:05 p.m. tipoff against Tennessee, which fell to UT-Chattanooga on Friday in their first game of post-Pat Summitt era.