Last Sunday, the Hurricanes were blown out by 33 points. On Thursday night, No. 17 Miami scored 100 points for the first time in six years. Quite the turnaround.
UM played inspired basketball in honor of two-time All-ACC pick and scoring leader Adrienne Motley, who missed the game for family matters.
The Canes had four players score in double-figures and went on to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 100-88 in the Watsco Center.
“In the pregame speech we talked about how we have to keep that fire in our heart following that loss,” said senior guard Jessica Thomas, who tied her career-high with both 24 points and seven assists to lead the team. “Not even just the loss, we had to do it for Mot. I know if Mot could be here, she would be.”
With Motley out of the lineup, redshirt junior guard Shaneese Bailey started for Miami and capitalized on the opportunity despite not being in the best health.
“Yesterday in practice she was ill,” Head Coach Katie Meier said. “She must have had the flu or food poisoning. We had her in the starting lineup as the plan to replace Mot, but when I showed up to practice I was told she was throwing up in the garbage. She bounced back today. For her to have that performance—[it was]not quite Michael Jordan when he had the flu, but that was a ridiculous effort because it was all effort plays.”
Bailey showed no ill effects, finishing with 17 points, the most she has scored at Miami, including the first nine points for the Canes.
Despite a resilient first-quarter performance from Bailey, the Hurricanes (15-5, 5-3 ACC) trailed the Tar Heels 27-24 after the first 10 minutes of play.
North Carolina (12-9, 1-7 ACC) bolted ahead in the second quarter, gaining a 41-34 lead. However, Miami closed out the period on a 10-3 run, capped off by a Laura Cornelius jumper at the buzzer, which knotted the score at 44 heading into the break.
Thomas, who only had four points at the intermission, received a surprising phone call at the half.
“I actually spoke to Mot at halftime,” Thomas said. “She told me, ‘JT, you gotta go and stay in attack.’ After that, it just all came together.”
Thomas responded to the words of her backcourt partner and netted 14 points in the third period, leading Miami to a 31-point quarter – the most in a single quarter by UM this season. The Hurricanes led 75-61 with just 10 minutes remaining and did not look back.
The Canes extended their lead to as many as 17 behind three triples from Cornelius in the fourth quarter.
“We scored 100 points,” Meier said. “We didn’t have Adrienne, and our two starting post players didn’t have double-figures. That’s really impressive if you think about it. Three of our top-four scorers – one wasn’t here and the other two didn’t even get double-figures. That’s the story about depth.”
Cornelius finished with 19 points, including five three-pointers, while junior forward Keyanna Harris notched a career-high 17 points.
As well as the Canes played offensively, they matched that performance on the defensive end – out-rebounding the Tar Heels 45-23.
Miami looks to stay hot as it hosts Boston College at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Watsco Center.