In a Senior Day game the women’s basketball team absolutely had to win, Tamara James did everything in her power to make sure her last appearance at home was an unforgettable victory.
James’ 37 points and seven steals led Miami (16-11, 6-8) to a 90-85 double overtime win over Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon at the Bank United Center.
Renee Taylor scored 22 points and senior Melissa Knight chipped in with 14 points.
“The 37 points do not matter to me,” James said. “If I come out with two points and we come out with a victory, I will be happy.”
James’ biggest basket was a three-pointer that tied the game at 81 with six seconds left in the first overtime. James then blocked a shot by Stephanie Higgs to send the game to a second overtime.
“I just knew Tamara and Melissa would will us through whatever happened,” said UM Head Coach Katie Meier.
Taylor made a three-pointer at the beginning of the second overtime to put Miami up 84-81. James added three free throws down the stretch to give Miami an 89-85 lead it never relinquished.
“It was a must win game and there was a lot of pressure on us,” Meier said.
The win gives Miami a six seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. The Hurricanes will face No. 11 seed Georgia Tech once again in the first round on Thursday.
Miami’s performance in the conference championship will determine whether it makes the NCAA Tournament.
James is now 34 points behind Maria Rivera for No. 1 on the school’s all-time career scoring list.
“When I am gone, hopefully they will continue to have success and I have helped them get more great players,” James said.
Georgia Tech kept pushing Miami throughout the entire second half, taking the lead for portions of the half. Knight made an open three that ended an 8-0 run by the Yellow Jackets with under five minutes to go.
“They switched off me and I was left alone,” Knight said. “So I said ‘OK’ and took the shot.”
James almost won the game for Miami in regulation when she made a jumper with three seconds left. Janie Mitchell was able to tie the score at 73 with a lay-up as time expired.
A key contribution came from Lamese James, who scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds, a majority of which came late in the game.
“We talked at halftime,” Meier said. “We told Lamese we needed five rebounds in the second half. She did that and it was huge.”
Katie Hayek and Tatjana Marincic also played their final home games.
Miami will face Georgia Tech Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., at 9:30 p.m.
Denis Brown can be contacted at email@example.com.