Senior Day lived up to its name on Sunday as forward Keyona Hayes scored a career-high 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the University of Miami to a 75-70 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
All three senior-starters – Hayes, Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas – scored in double figures for the No. 17 Hurricanes (21-7, 10-6 ACC).
“The seniors did their job, and I’m really proud of them,” Miami Coach Katie Meier said after the game.
In an emotional moment, Hayes and Thomas subbed out of the game for the final time in the regular season with just seconds remaining. Their exit was met with a rousing applause from the crowd.
Motley finished with 17 points, including a three-pointer to put the Canes up nine with 1:32 remaining in the final quarter. The shot clinched a Miami victory in its regular-season finale.
“That was the dagger,” Meier said. “That was it.”
The Hurricanes led the entire first half, but reserve forward Khaila Prather went down with a leg injury late in the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets (16-13, 5-11 ACC) took advantage and completed a three-point play on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to six going into halftime.
Georgia Tech outrebounded Miami 48-32, including 24-11 on the offensive glass. The Yellow Jackets scored 23 second-chance points off those rebounds, which helped them stay in the game and take the lead going into the fourth.
“They were gritty, they were feisty, they were physical,” Meier said of the opposing team.
But, the Canes would not concede so easily. They jumped out to a quick 6-0 run to begin the fourth quarter and held the lead for the remainder of the game.
“We needed to respond, and then we responded with physicality,” Meier said. “The execution in that fourth quarter is probably as proud as I’ve been of this team all year.”
With about four minutes remaining, Hayes snatched an offensive rebound out of an opponent’s grasp and finished a layup while being fouled. The play swung momentum in Miami’s favor, awakening a quiet, matinee crowd.
“That and-one was enormous,” Meier said.
G-Tech freshman Francesca Pan scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss.
Miami’s next games will be in the ACC tournament, which starts Wednesday. The Canes are set to be the seventh seed of the tournament, with only ranked teams placing ahead of them.