WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Second half stuns Canes

The Univeristy of Miami women’s basketball gave up a double-digit halftime lead and suffered a tough loss to the Virginia Cavaliers Monday, 79-68. With the loss, Miami continues to struggle to find a way to beat Virginia, losing five of their last six games to the Cavaliers.

“I’m extremely disappointed in our effort,” Miami Head Coach Katie Meier said. “We got challenged and we didn’t respond. It’s my job as a coach to get this team ready to respond, and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”

The Canes (8-11, 1-3) came out strong against Virginia (14-5, 3-1) in the first half, creating turnovers and scoring opportunities while shooting 45 percent from the field and 67 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

“Miami turned it up a notch and we tried to play at their pace at that point and that’s when things started to unravel for us,” Virginia Head Coach Debbie Ryan said. “Miami is to be credited. They took us out of our game in the first half, and we had to fight to get back into it.”

A strong defensive effort and a 14-2 run by the Canes shaped a 10-point Miami lead going into halftime.

“At halftime I didn’t feel a lot of energy in the locker room and I was really concerned,” Meier said. “I tried to challenge them and raise my voice a little bit, get a little bit of the intensity and passion back into the game.”

Meier wasn’t the only coach raising her voice at halftime. Ryan also felt that some of her players needed extra motivation to get them back in the game.

“Coach Ryan had some words for me in the locker room and I kind of took it personally,” Virginia junior forward Lyndra Littles said. “I don’t want anybody to say something that I disagree with so I went out there to prove each and every last one of them wrong.”

Littles, who finished with a team-high 20 points, came out in the second half and scored eight of Virginia’s first 10 points, including two three-pointers that shifted the momentum of the game.

After a promising first half, Miami was outscored 23-9 in the first seven minutes of the second. The Canes were out-rebounded 27-12 in the second half alone and could never seem to regain their mental intensity.

“Our rebounds have to be the blue-collar, gritty, scratch-and-claw type of rebounds,” Meier said. “When we’re gritty and we’re tough and we’re physical, we’re a special team.”

The Canes host Florida State Thursday, looking to gain momentum before traveling to College Park to take on No. 4 Maryland.

“We will be ready for Florida State,” senior center Carla Williams said. “This is just a hump. We will get over it.”

Rory Lincoln may be contacted at r.lincoln@umiami.edu.