Miami to play South Dakota State in first round of NCAA Tournament

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Junior guard Adrienne Motley (23) drives to the basket during December's home game against Lowell. Motley leads the team in scoring heading into the NCAA Tournament. Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor

Junior guard Adrienne Motley (23) drives to the basket during December’s home game against Lowell. Motley leads the team in scoring heading into the NCAA Tournament. Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor

The Hurricanes had a strong showing in the ACC Tournament, defeating rival school Florida State and making it to the semifinals, but they are far from done. The Canes travel to Stanford, California on Wednesday as a No. 5 seed to play No. 12 South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head Coach Katie Meier’s squad will look to enter the game the same way they went into the ACC Tournament: scoring efficiently and rebounding the basketball at a high level. In the three games Miami played in Greensboro, North Carolina, the team averaged over 72 points a game and rebounded the ball at an impressive rate. Doing this even gave eventual ACC champion Notre Dame a run for its money.

In order for the Canes (24-8) to carry this high-octane offense into the NCAA Tournament, they must hit their three-pointers. There are not many teams that feed off the momentum of a three ball better than Miami. The Canes average 19.5 threes per game, and the percentage they make usually tells the story of the night on offense.

The guard play of juniors Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas will be vital to the team’s success in the tournament. Miami’s two leading scorers will need to shoot the ball efficiently in order for the team to put up the points necessary to beat top groups such as Notre Dame and Stanford, which UM will likely face if the Canes advance past the first round.

South Dakota State (26-6) is a team that likes to shoot from downtown as well. In two of their last three games, the Jackrabbits made 11 threes on 30-plus attempts. Being a No. 12 seed, South Dakota State is clearly the underdog, so the Jackrabbits will likely launch even more threes in order to keep up with the Canes.

The Canes must assert their dominance by outrebounding the opponent. The Canes have to do this to the Jackrabbits early and often to keep them out of the game. Redshirt junior forward Keyona Hayes, freshman forward Emese Hof and sophomore forward Erykah Davenport are all expected to play big minutes to clean the glass.

The Canes play South Dakota State at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Stanford University on ESPN2.

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