It was a fitting end to Sheila James’ final game in front of the Knight Sports Complex crowd.
James, the Hurricanes’ second leading three-point specialist in school history, blocked a three-point attempt by Amber Jacobs with six seconds remaining, and the Hurricanes held on to upset No. 18 Boston College, 60-57, on Tuesday night.
The 5-5 senior, who scored only five points on 1-of-7 shooting, hit two key free throws with 4.9 seconds left after Jacobs made one of two foul shots to bring the Eagles within 58-57. Jacobs was put on the line after Chanivia Broussard’s fifth foul of the game. Clare Droesch missed a desperation 30-footer for Boston College as time expired.
“You never want it to come down to that,” James said. “It’s definitely not what I expected but if that’s the way it ends, that’s the way it ends.”
James, Martha Bodley and Kathryn Fowler were honored before the game, and all three had a hand in the win. Fowler led Miami with 11 points and nine rebounds and Bodley added six points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
“On the floor at the end of the game were our three seniors Martha, Sheila and (Kathryn),” UM coach Ferne Labati said. “We just felt we were just going to either win it or lose it with those three seniors, and we won it.”
The win was Miami’s third over a ranked opponent this season, the others coming against Texas on Dec. 9 and Virginia Tech last Wednesday. The Hurricanes solidified the No. 5 seed in the Big East Tournament that begins Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. Miami will take on the No. 12 seed Georgetown in the first round on Saturday. Despite the loss, Boston College is the No. 3 seed and will have a first round bye.
“We look at it as an entirely new season,” Labati said. “We got our 17 wins in the regular season but the Big East season starts all over again. You have to play it really tough. You have to be really really excited to go up there and I think our kids are.
“We’ve had a lot of success in the Big East Tournament as a program. Our goal is to get to the finals.”
The Hurricanes led by five early in the second half before Rachel Byars hit a layup with 17:08 to start a 15-5 Boston College run and give the Eagles a 43-38 lead. Miami countered with a 6-0 run to take a 44-43 lead with 12:02 remaining. The second half went back and forth after that, with five ties and eight lead changes.
Broussard struggled, shooting 3-of-14 from the field, but other Hurricanes picked up the slack. Alicia Hartlaub scored six of her eight points in the second half, and Meghan Saake added 10 points and five steals to give her a school-record 110.
“In order for us to win against Boston College, we couldn’t have just one or two players have a good game,” Labati said. “We had to have everyone have a good game, especially the kids that came off the bench. That’s been the problem all year. We hadn’t been able to put two good halves together.”
Labati knows the Hurricanes will have to play all 40 minutes if they want to advance in the conference tournament. Miami most likely needs two consecutive wins in order to garner an NCAA Tournament berth. That would be Miami’s first trip since the 1997-98 season.
“Everybody wants to go to the Big Dance,” Labati said. “This year, there are a lot of teams that are on the bubble. We have to prove to the NCAA Committee that we’re worthy of getting a bid.”