Women’s basketball loses first game of season

The women’s basketball team rallied from a 14-point first half deficit on Wednesday night but fell short against George Mason 68-61 at the BankUnited Center.

Patriots forward Moni Akintunde overcame early foul trouble to score 12 points and grab seven rebounds. Tracy Ann Holness and Keyhana Wakefield each had 14 points for George Mason (3-2).

The Hurricanes (3-1) lost despite a Herculean effort from senior forward Tamara James, who had 24 points, seven rebounds and four steals. James scored 10 consecutive points during a 13-2 Miami run in the first half.

“They played zone all night to try to keep Tamara from scoring, but she still does it,” said UM Head Coach Katie Meier. “I would have loved to play with her. She is inspirational.”

Freshman center Brittany Denson had the best game of her young career, coming off the bench to score 11 points, grab seven boards and relieve starter Imani Dhahabu, who fouled out with eight minutes remaining.

Miami had a 56-55 lead with more than three minutes remaining, but Akintunde broke loose for a lay-up to give the Patriots the lead for good. George Mason finished the game on a 13-5 run.

Meier said poor shot selection haunted the Hurricanes throughout the loss.

“We were not as organized as we needed to be,” Meier said. “Three-pointers should not be getting tipped. We need players to be more alert.”

The Patriots jumped out to a 24-10 lead after Jen Daniels made a three-pointer midway through the first half. James responded by making three lay-ups, converting a three-point play and hitting a triple to help the Hurricanes cut their deficit to three. George Mason closed the half on a 9-4 run to take a 35-27 lead into the locker room.

A free throw by Denson early in the second half made the score 41-37 in favor of the Patriots, but Wakefield hit a three-pointer and Colleen Shumaker added a lay-up to push their lead back to eight. The Hurricanes regained the lead at the 5:59 mark when James took a full-court pass from LaToya Cunningham for an easy lay-up and a 54-53 edge.

Miami returns to action tonight when it takes on Farleigh Dickinson at 7 p.m. in the BankUnited Center.

“It’s time to grow up and be women,” Meier said. “We have to be accountable for our mistakes.”

Eric Kalis can be contacted at e.kalis@umiami.edu.