The Hurricanes improved to 8-0 with a 73-64 win over Illinois as part of the Big 10/ACC Challenge in the BankUnited Center on Wednesday night. The victory was fueled by a late fourth quarter 16-0 surge by the Canes.
The Hurricanes started off slow, going down 9-0 in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Head Coach Kate Meier elected not to call a timeout or make any substitutions, but instead let her team fight through the adversity. The Canes fulfilled their coach’s hopes as they countered the Illini run with an 11-0 run of their own.
The game remained closely contested until the second quarter, when Illinois (4-1) broke away thanks to strong three-point shooting. They shot 5-of-13 from downtown in the first half, compared to Miami’s 1-of-10 first half three-point shooting.
Illinois led 35-28 going into the half. Illini freshman Cierra Rice led all scorers with 12 first half points.
As the teams exchanged buckets and turnovers, the Fighting Illini maintained about a seven-point lead throughout the third quarter and the early part of the fourth quarter. Then at the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Canes went on a game-defining 16-0 run to retake the lead 65-57. The run was led by junior guards Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas, predominantly Thomas’s facilitating and Motley’s scoring. Motley finished the game with a game-high 24 points, marking her sixth straight game scoring in double figures.
The Canes warded off any last- minute comeback efforts by the Illini.
Despite both teams undefeated records entering the matchup, the game was surprisingly sloppy. Coming into the game the Illini averaged 19 turnovers a game, but in today’s contest they committed a whopping 26 turnovers. The story did not drastically differ for the Canes, as they committed 18 turnovers. The Hurricanes took advantage of the numerous Illini miscues by scoring 34 points off of turnovers.
“We played uncharacteristically sloppy,” Meier said to HurricaneSports.com.
The Canes contained Illinois’s leading scorer center Chatrice White, as she could only score six points. She had been averaging 20.3 point per game coming into the matchup. Credit should be given to freshman forward Emese Hof, who guarded White most of the night.
“I think Erykah [Davenport] and Emese took it real personally. We did not have a ton of time to prepare, but they took it very personally and they are known for their ability to defend,” Meier said to HurricaneSports.com.
The Canes next face Coppin State at 7 p.m. on Friday at the BankUnited Center.