Miami guard LaToya Cunningham made a breakaway layup with 29 seconds left in the game to extend the Hurricanes (2-0) lead to 73-69 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (0-2).
Cunningham made one of two free throws after being fouled intentionally by Panther Turquoise McCain to help ensure a ‘Canes victory 78-71.
Miami held leads of 16-4, 39-25, 48-32 and finally 67-57 with 7:30 left in the game. Milwaukee went on a 12-3 run from that point to bring the Panthers to within two points, 71-69.
“I am worried about our team’s energy level,” Head Coach Katie Meier said. “I don’t think we played with as much energy as I would have liked.”
For the second straight game, the Hurricanes had a double-digit lead going into the final eight minutes of the game and let the opposing team to come within four points.
The biggest difference in the game was the 22 turnovers for Milwaukee compared to 15 for Miami. The Hurricanes had a plus three assist to turnover margin compared to negative five margin for the Panthers. These turnovers created extra possessions for a Miami team that was out shot from the field and from the line.
Miami’s defensive press was sustained throughout most of the first half, which helped to create turnovers. The pressure did not allow Milwaukee to get into its best scoring option, Traci Edwards, involved for the first 10 minutes of the game.
“[Milwaukee’s] whole entire offense is schemed around Edwards,” Meier said. “She got 16 points, but they probably had half their turnovers trying to feed her the ball.”
UM senior Renee Taylor led all scorers in the game with 23 points on 7-17 shooting from the field. The Hurricanes also received a valuable contribution from Cunningham who netted 12 points, including three of Miami’s nine three point shots in the game.
“I think that the three point shooting is nice to hit nine,” Meier said. “I think that it is very crucial for us.”
Milwaukee won the Horizon league last year, which gave the team an automatic birth into the NCAA Tournament.
The crowd was the second largest for a women’s basketball game at the Bank United Center.
“That’s a very big win,” Meier said. “That’s a good team. They are going to win over 20 games. It’s a great RPI win for us.”
Denis Brown may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org