Miami had a chance to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in two years with a first-round Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament victory on Thursday night, but the sixth-seeded Hurricanes fell to 11th-seeded Georgia Tech 79-62.
Tamara James scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in her final ACC game, but James picked up two quick fouls and had to sit out for the majority of the first half. The Yellow Jackets took advantage and went up by double digits near the midway point.
Lamese James took the game over with about five minutes left in the first half, going on a 9-0 run of her own, including two three pointers. During the regular season, James hit only three, but she connected on consecutive possessions to bring Miami within five points. Georgia Tech took a 36-32 lead to halftime.
After the break, Miami took its second lead of the game at 46-45, but Georgia Tech dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the Hurricanes 34-16. The outcome came in large part from the Hurricanes shooting just 32 percent from the field for the game.
The Hurricanes lost the battle of the boards in their two previous meetings with the Yellow Jackets and were out- rebounded 47-31 on Thursday night. Miami had won both regular season meetings against the Yellow Jackets despite the rebounding disadvantage, including the final regular season game only four days before in double overtime.
Head Coach Katie Meier told the Miami Herald that she believes her team will definitely be in the National Invitation Tournament.
“Oh yeah, I think we’re a postseason team,” Meier said. “We made some tremendous strides this year.”
Three other Hurricanes reached double figures in scoring, with Lamese James netting 13 points and seven rebounds. Renee Taylor finished with 12, and senior Melissa Knight had 10 points in her final ACC game.
Georgia Tech finished with 23 turnovers and only two assists on the evening, a turnover-to-assist ratio that rarely results in a team picking up a victory. But it showed the style that the Yellow Jackets play, attacking the glass and putting the ball back in the net. Stephanie Higgs led GT with 22 points.
Even with the first-round loss, Meier said it was a successful season. The team was pcked to finish 11th out of the 12 teams in the ACC.
“We did not play the style we were successful with the entire year tonight. But there is a lot of great stories about our team,” Meier said. “We’ve proven to be in the upper half of the nation’s No. 1 conference. We’re a sixth seed. We earned that. We really earned that.”
Douglas C. Kroll can be reached at email@example.com.