Renee Taylor scored 18 points including a jumper with 48 seconds left to play that sealed a 68-60 victory over Georgia State Friday in the 2006-2007 season opener at the Bank United Center.
Taylor scored 14 points in the second half and Miami’s final six points of the game after Georgia State cut the lead to 62-58, their closest margin since the 12:00 mark of the first half.
“When the game is on the line, she can be 0-for-everything, but she will hit the shot to win the game,” Head Coach Katie Meier said. “Renee’s confidence is never shaken and my confidence and the team’s confidence in her is never shaken. We always know she is coming through.”
Three other Miami starters scored in double figures.
Center Brittany Denson had a triumphant return to the hardwood after missing the final eight games of last season with a knee injury. Denson was six of 10 from the floor with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.
“I felt good and it makes me more confident that I am not worried about my knees and I can play,” Denson said.
Guard Albrey Grimsley was also six of 10 from the field with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. The last time Grimsley scored 15 points was Jan. 20, 2005 against N.C. State.
Meier was impressed with the performances of both Denson and Grimsley.
“They were the two most competitive people on the court tonight, the two most focused and the two that were really playing Miami basketball,” she said.
Newcomer Maurita Reid, a junior college transfer from Monroe Community College, connected three times from behind the arc, totaling 11 points despite being plagued by leg cramps throughout the game.
Miami went into halftime with a comfortable 39-25 lead after shooting 51.6 percent from the field while holding their opponent to a 37.5 percent field goal percentage.
The Hurricanes started the second half on a 17-9 run and had a commanding 56-34 lead with only 11:59 remaining.
The game took a turn when the Hurricanes had a large scoring drought on offense. Georgia State answered with a 22-6 run, trailing by four points with a 1:10 left.
Miami shot 2 for 18 from the field and committed five turnovers in that span until Taylor’s basket with 48 seconds left.
Despite the roaring comeback from Georgia State, Meier believed she learned a lot from her team in their first game.
“We were a very high level basketball team, certainly for our first game,” Meier said. “If we focus and play competitive basketball, it’s going to be a very special season.”
There was a moment of silence before the game, honoring senior defensive tackle Bryan Pata who tragically was shot and killed last Tuesday. The Hurricanes wore wrist bands with Pata’s number during the game.
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.