Lady ‘Canes sneak by No. 24 Hokies

When the Hurricanes women’s basketball team lost to Virginia Tech two weeks ago, they left Blacksburg, Va. knowing they let the game slip away.

So when the No. 24 Hokies came to Coral Gables for the rematch, Miami wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Not at home. Not against a conference opponent.

Trailing for the majority of the game, the Lady ‘Canes held on for a 55-53 win on Wednesday night at the Knight Sports Complex.

Hokies guard Chrystal Starling missed a jumper and Ieva Kublina couldn’t put in the rebound to seal the victory for Miami. Chanivia Broussard scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half, including six in the final three and a half minutes of the game to put Miami up for good.

“We definitely needed to show them that we were better than them,” Broussard said. “It was sort of like revenge. We were up by 12 at their place and we ended up losing by 12. So it was something we definitely needed to get off our chest.”

Broussard fouled out with 15 seconds remaining in the game and the Hurricanes (16-9, 9-5 in the Big East) leading 55-51.

The Hurricanes took sole possession of fifth place in the Big East, having been tied with the Hokies. It was Miami’s second win over a ranked opponent, the first coming on Dec. 9 against No. 17 Texas.

Miami took its first lead of the half on a Meghan Saake layup with 10:24. The half went back and forth before Broussard took over. The Hurricanes shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, after only converting 22 percent in the first half.

“We kept it close the whole game at Virginia Tech and we let it go at the end so we wanted to concentrate and play for 40 minutes,” said Sheila James, who added six points, five rebounds and two blocks. “We wanted to get our second win over a ranked opponent because we knew that was important when it came to tournament time.”

Virginia Tech lost its sixth in its last eight games, despite a dominant performance by Kublina. She recorded career-highs in both points (29) and rebounds (16) for her eighth double-double of the season. But she was the only Hokie who really took the offensive, as she was responsible for six of Virginia Tech’s eight made shots in the second half.

“Our coach chewed us out about post play, so we needed to step up and show our coach that we do listen at practice,” Broussard said. “We had to show her that we could handle our business.”

Said UM coach Ferne Labati: “We felt very strongly that we had to play good defense. In the second half at Virginia Tech we allowed 42 points and we couldn’t allow that to happen again. We told our kids that if we kept the score under 60 we could win the game.”

The Hurricanes held the Hokies to 36 percent shooting in the second half. The first half was mostly Virginia Tech, however, as Miami had no answer for Kublina, who dominated inside and outside. She made all four of her field goals and all six of her free throws in the first half.

The Hurricanes did close out the half on a 6-0 run to make it a 26-20 game going into halftime. The ‘Canes shot just 22 percent from the field, converting on 7-of-32 field goal attempts. Miami was equally bad from the free throw line, making just 5-of-13.

“It wasn’t pretty, we missed layups, we missed free throws,” Labati said. “We got by with defense. We never quit. We played well against FIU (last Saturday) but we just made too many mistakes. In this ballgame we didn’t want to be denied a win.”