After dropping the final two decisions of their season-long three game road trip, the University of Miami women’s basketball team found the perfect remedy for their slump – home cooking.
The Hurricanes took advantage of a large Wednesday night crowd, defeating Big East foe Syracuse in a 75-71 overtime thriller. Sophomore forward Shaquana Wilkins came off the bench to score a career high 26 points for Miami, who improved to 10-6 (3-3 Big East) with the win.
“Coming into this game, I was thinking about defense and that if I’m playing good defense, then the offense will come and that’s exactly what happened,” Wilkins said.
In 33 minutes of play, Wilkins shot 11-of-17 from the field and added 10 rebounds. Sophomore Chanivia Broussard also recorded a double-double, posting 23 points and 15 rebounds. The Hurricanes were able to get viable scoring options against the Orangewomen, but according to head coach Ferne Labati, they won by sticking to the game plan.
“We wanted to attack the zone, stop the penetration, play good three-point defense, and overall be much more patient,” Labati said. “We were able to perform all those things much better tonight.”
The victory comes four days after Miami suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, losing 96-50 to top-ranked Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center. After sticking with the Huskies early on, the ‘Canes were bombarded with a 32-6 UConn run to end the first half. Despite Broussard’s 18 points, the Hurricanes couldn’t counter with any weapons to cool down UConn’s up-tempo style, and that was what killed them, according to Labati.
“In order to stay in the game with Connecticut, you have to score,” Labati said. “And when they made their run, we couldn’t answer with any points at all.”
The road swing started off on a positive note, as Miami avenged last season’s 39-37 loss to Rutgers, beating the Scarlet Knights 67-53, in Piscataway, N.J. on Jan. 5. Down by two at halftime, Miami came out firing in the second half and outscored Rutgers 44-28. Senior Martha Bodley provided an unusual spark for the Hurricanes, scoring a career-high 18 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
Miami also got double-digit scoring games from Meghan Saake and Melissa Knight, but it was Bodley who answered every Rutgers possession with a big score of her own.
“I was thinking about how hard I have to work and I was really happy that I could step up, get some points and rebounds, and also get some minutes,” Bodley said.
The joy of defeating Rutgers didn’t last long, however, as Miami fell to West Virginia 57-52 three days later. After getting off to an 18-5 advantage, the Hurricane offense suddenly turned frigid, as Miami was unable to record back to back victories against a team they handled by 16 at home earlier in the season. Broussard scored 14 points to lead a Miami team that shot just 36 percent from the floor.
“We started off real strong and then let them come back on us and we couldn’t quite come back ourselves,” Saake said.
The win against Syracuse puts Miami’s Big East mark right at .500. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, however, as the Hurricanes play host to Big East foe Seton Hall tomorrow afternoon at the Miami Arena before traveling to St. John’s on Wednesday.
The next few games may determine whether there will be life after the regular season for Miami.