Women’s basketball overcomes sluggish start to win first game

Miami women’s basketball began its season Friday night with a 65-47 win over visiting Gardner-Webb in the opening round of the Miami Jam tournament.

The final score was a bit deceiving, as the Hurricanes came out extremely sluggish, falling behind 11-0 right out of the gate and 19-4 with 12 minutes to play in the half. Perhaps the 20-minute delay at the start of the game affected the Hurricanes. The first game of the tournament between TCU-UCLA ran long and forced Miami and GWU to wait in the wings.

Tamara James led Miami with 19 points and eight rebounds, although she struggled shooting the ball, going 7-for-19 from the field. Point guard Yalonda McCormick added 10 points and five steals. GWU’s Sequenta Blackman led all scorers with 22 points, including 15 in the first half.

Head Coach Ferne Labati said the Hurricanes have to play better.

“We definitely have to work on our defense, especially defending a team’s best player,” Labati said.

The ‘Canes cut their deficit to six at halftime, trailing the Bulldogs 30-24 after a 7-0 run to close out the half. The Hurricanes finally tied the game at 34-34 with two free throws from Katie Hayek four minutes into the second half and took the lead for good when James hit a three-pointer from the corner to go up 39-38.

The Hurricanes went on to outscore GWU 39-17 in the second half, leading by as many as 17.

Miami improved to 29-3 in season openers and moved on to face TCU in the second round of the season-opening tournament. After shooting only 30 percent in the first half, the Hurricanes dominated inside and wound up shooting 50 percent in the second half.

Another bright spot for Miami was freshman Albrey Grimsley, who went 4-for-6 from the field for nine points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

After beating a Gardner-Webb team that went 5-22 a year ago, Labati knows that the Hurricanes have some kinks to work out.

“We came out with the win tonight and we’re happy about that,” Labati said. “We know we have to work on some things, but we are moving on.”

On Sunday the Hurricanes defeated TCU 68-57 to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.