Women’s Basketball: Hurricanes’ defense powers Miami past Wake

The Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball team upended the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 77-51 and snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday night at the Bank United Center.

The ‘Canes (11-14, 2-8 ACC) victory denied Wake Forest (9-14, 0-9 ACC) their first conference win.

Junior Maurita Reid’s double-figure performance of eighteen points and ten steals allowed UM to establish an early lead. Reid, the ACC’s leader in steals, tied a school record for most steals in a game, while setting a new personal career high.

Along with Reid, four other ‘Canes scored in double figures, including senior Renee Taylor, whose 16 points and four steals helped Miami convert 25 points off turnovers.

With its speedy defense and smothering full-court press, Miami frustrated the Demon Deacons for most of the contest, especially in the first half, in which Wake Forest committed 16 turnovers.

“Within the great team structure we had tonight, we had some amazing individual performances,” Head Coach Katie Meier said.

“But the story of the game, and this is what we committed to, was our defense, especially defending Yolanda Lavender, who’s a great scorer.”

Lavender, the second leading scorer in the conference, was held scoreless by the ‘Canes.

Miami led 39-24 at the half while maintaining 45.9 percent shooting from the field. The Hurricanes patiently revitalized their offense at the start of the second period and stayed focused, making sure not to endanger their lead. Throughout the season, this has been an issue, as Miami has often squandered a sizeable lead late in the second half.

“Before the game, we talked about finishing,” Meier said. “And the biggest thing was that our team was confident in stopping them in the half court, something we haven’t always done well. But we just never lost focus, and our energy was great.”

Reid agreed that maintaining stamina in the second half was a key to the Hurricane’s victory.

“Everybody was ready to play, everybody had their energy up,” Reid said. “In the second half we gathered together and played like it was a new game. We normally don’t come out playing the second half as good as we do the first.”

In limiting Wake Forest to a mere 33.9 percent shooting, the Hurricanes proved their athleticism and underrated ability to make defensive stops. This is something they will definitely need to continue during the last four games of the regular season, including a nationally televised away game at Boston College next week.

In their first meeting, Miami outlasted BC 83-68, thanks to its strong defense. In order to pick up a much-needed win, Meier believes the Hurricanes will have to play just as hard as they did against Wake Forest, if they want to be competitive in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

“We need that confidence for this final stretch,” Meier said. “We had a phenomenal defensive effort against them. We need that again.”

Victor R. Rodriguez may be contacted at v.rodriguez18@umiami.edu.