With the Miami Hurricanes battling for a spot in the NCAA Tournament and a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament, the last thing anyone expected was that Miami would come out playing sub-par basketball in its second to last game of the regular season
However, that’s exactly what happened, as the Hurricanes fell 69-64 to the Providence Friars at Alumni Hall in Providence on Saturday. The win boosted the Friars record to 12-14(6-9 Big East), while Miami fell to 16-10(9-6 Big East). The loss also ensured that the Hurricanes will finish no better than fifth in the Big East standings, meaning that they will not be able to grab a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament.
Miami’s offense struggled against the quick Providence defense, as the Hurricanes shot just 36 percent and turned the ball over 23 times. The Hurricanes also had another ineffective game at the free throw line, converting on just 11 of their 20 opportunities.
“I think our silly mistakes on offense and defense really killed us,” said junior Meghan Saake. ‘We needed this game to try and help us get into the NCAA Tournament, and we didn’t get it.”
However, Miami almost made up for its offensive woes on the other end. Although the Friars shot 54 percent from the field, the Hurricane defense forced 34 Providence turnovers, which was one short of this season’s Big East High of 35, also set by the Friars. However, Hurricane players like senior Shelia James did not see forcing 34 turnovers as any sort of consolation prize.
“We just didn’t convert on our shot opportunities,” James said. “Even though we forced 34 turnovers, we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Senior Martha Bodley led all scorers with a game high 17, and also pulled down six rebounds. Sophomore Chanivia Broussard added 16 points, and Saake broke out of a recent scoring slump, posting 12 points. Michal Epstein led the Friars with 15 points, while Jessica Simmonds scored 13 points, and added 10 rebounds. Overall, Providence held the advantage on the glass, outrebounding Miami 40-32.
“We really didn’t get that many rebounds and whenever we had a shot, no one was there to collect the rebound,” Bodley said. “We’re a better team than Providence, but they showed that they wanted it more than us.”
Tonight at 7:00, Miami closes out the 2001-2002 regular season against Boston College at the Knight Sports Complex. The Eagles come into the contest with a 12-3 mark in Big East play, and the Hurricanes know that they will have to play complete basketball in order to win.
“We need to play for 40 minutes, and play a smart 40 minutes,” James said. “We can’t play for 25 minutes, like we did against Providence.”
Tonight’s game also marks Senior Night for three Miami Hurricanes. James, Bodley, and forward Kathryn Fowler will be honored before tip-off, and they certainly want their team to come out strong in its final collegiate regular season contest.
“This will be my last home game, so I hope we win,” Bodley said. “I don’t want to end my college career with a loss.”