CLEMSON, S.C. – After an impressive victory over No. 20 NC State last weekend, the Hurricanes came up winless on their two-game road trip. Miami fell to No. 2 Notre Dame 79-52, and to Clemson 60-52.
The Canes (11-9, 3-4 ACC) faced a stiff challenge in Notre Dame, which leads the nation in scoring, assists and 3-point percentage. The second-ranked Fighting Irish had won 40 consecutive regular season games, including 20 straight at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame defeated the four ranked teams they have played this season by an average of more than 16 points per game.
Miami, however, hung tough in the first half of Thursday night’s game. While the Hurricanes were out-rebounded from the opening possession – Notre Dame had four offensive boards in the first minute – Miami built a six-point lead in the opening period.
It should be noted, though, that in its previous game Notre Dame notched a 16-point victory after falling behind by 12 points at Tennessee. The Irish, no strangers to the idea of poise under pressure, hit their stride and took a nine-point lead into the half.
The nation’s No. 2 team proved much more difficult to handle in the second half. Notre Dame (18-0, 5-0 ACC) started the period on a 10-0 run, increasing the lead to as many as 35 points en route to the 79-52 win.
Forward Natalie Achunwa and guard Lindsay Allen scored 23 and 16 respectively for the Irish, and also anchored a defense that held the Hurricanes to a weak 30 percent field goal clip. Miami managed just 11 percent shooting from 3-point range (1-for-9).
“For us to win in this conference, we’re going to have to score a lot more than we did tonight,” coach Katie Meier said. “We have to play with more poise and maturity.”
Miami then traveled to Clemson for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Tigers (10-11), who were 1-5 in ACC play heading into the game.
A winnable game was marred by more uncharacteristic shooting woes for Miami. Despite 14 points from freshman Adrienne Motley, Miami shot just 17-for-66 from the field, including 3-of-23 from 3-point range, a dismal 13 percent clip.
“We’re playing with very little confidence,” Meier said. “As a coach, I need to figure out how I can get the best from my players moving forward.”
Looking ahead, it doesn’t get any easier for the Hurricanes. Miami will host No. 3 Duke on Thursday night, and then travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on a talented North Carolina squad on Sunday.
The Canes will attempt to turn the tables and get their conference record back over .500.