With the season drawing to an end and the Hurricanes’ two seniors playing in their final home game, Miami hoped to grab a late win to build momentum going into the ACC Tournament. However, they fell far short of their goal, losing to North Carolina State 77-53 on Saturday afternoon.
The game was the last played in Coral Gables for Miami’s two seniors, Renee Taylor and Amy Audibert. The ‘Canes (11-18, 2-12 ACC) had lost seven of their previous eight games going into Saturday’s contest, while the Wolfpack (21-8, 10-4 ACC) had won seven of their last eight.
Early on, Taylor and Audibert opened Miami’s scoring with consecutive three-pointers. However, Miami had a six-minute scoring drought midway through the first half that blew the game wide open, as NC State went on a 12-0 run to take a 15-point lead. Carla Williams’ layup ended the run with 5:45 left in the half, sparking a 6-0 run by the Hurricanes.
The second half began with NC State going on a 14-5 run in the first five minutes of the half to take a 20-point lead. They never relinquished that lead, winning the game by 24 points. The win ensured the Wolfpack a first round bye in the ACC Tournament.
Among Miami’s problems was its transition defense. They also struggled to stay consistent on offense, playing sloppy at times and turning the ball over 18 times. Their offensive struggles were evidenced by scoring drought.
Meier said she was most impressed with forward Khadijah Whittington, who she called her favorite ACC player outside of her team. “Whittington’s the one today that I thought was just phenomenal,” Meier said. “Her energy level is incredible. She’s relentless. I think she hurt us as much as Goring.”
One bright spot for the ‘Canes was the accomplishment of Taylor, who scored 1,000 career points after hitting a three-pointer with 11:12 left in the first half.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” Taylor said. “But then again, it all goes back to the team and the coaches. Coming into the ACC, it’s not easy to just score. I just try to do what I can, and it came out that way. It’s not something that I was trying to do.”
Taylor, who leads the ACC in scoring, is the 19th player in UM history to surpass the 1,000-point mark.
“I give Renee goals, but I never would have thought of giving her the goal of scoring 1,000 points in two years,” Meier said. “I never would have even thought that. That’s incredible. It’s almost incomprehensible.”
Meanwhile, Miami’s other senior and team captain, Audibert, reminisced about her past four years as a Hurricane.
“I love this place; I love this school,” Audibert said. “I can’t even really describe it. I love the people here; I love the program. I have so much respect for the girls here.”
With their regular season is now wrapped up, Miami will be preparing for the ACC Tournament, which will begin on March 1.
“We’ve just got to bounce back,” Taylor said. “We never fall apart. We haven’t been doing too well, but we’ve been staying together. Keep fixing things, and hopefully we’ll get a better outcome.”
Meier has faith that hope is not lost for the team and that they will be able to succeed at the ACC tournament with the right mindset.
“They keep seeking improvement,” Meier said. “It’s going to pay off. I think we might be able to make some noise in the Tournament.”
Joel Brown may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.