WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Team takes on a familiar opponent

After losing 11 of 12 games to finish the regular season, the women’s basketball team will take on a familiar opponent in Georgia Tech in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday.

The teams have met twice this season, each winning a game at home on a last-second shot. The win over the Yellow Jackets (21-8, 7-7 ACC) at the BankUnited Center in February gave Miami (9-20, 2-12 ACC) one of only two conference victories all season.

This also marks the fourth consecutive time the teams have met in the first round of the ACC tournament since Miami joined the conference.

“It’s ironic that it’s Georgia Tech again,” head coach Katie Meier said. “We’re very similar teams in terms of the style of play and the trapping defenses and the athletic style that we both play, so I think it’s going to be one of the better matchups on the first day.”

In addition to senior guard Maurita Reid, who was named to the ACC all-defensive team earlier this week, Meier said she looks for sophomore forward Diane Barnes and freshman guard Damisha Moore to fill big roles offensively.

“They might surprise a few people in this tournament,” Meier said.

The Ramblin’ Wreck is led by three players averaging double-figures in scoring, third team All-ACC forward Janie Mitchell, guard Chioma Nnamaka and forward Alex Montgomery, who was named to the ACC all-freshman team. Mitchell averages 17.1 points per game, fifth highest in the ACC, and leads the team with 6.3 rebounds a contest.

Georgia Tech Coach MaChelle Joseph said she feels her team is playing its best basketball of the season, despite losing four of its last seven games, including a loss in Coral Gables.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with our draw, the opportunity to play Miami,” Joseph said. “The kids were very excited when we heard we were going to get to play Miami because we felt like we let one get away from us earlier in the season when we played at Miami.”

Joseph said she feels her team would be NCAA tournament-bound even without a win today, but that a win would make Georgia Tech a “lock.”

Meier said she thinks her Miami team is similar to the Georgia Tech team three years ago that had only two conference wins but upset her squad in the first round of the ACC tournament.

“They were in the position they could reinvent themselves in the tournament and that’s what they did,” Meier said. “I have a lot of faith in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and I see it happening for us. Ultimately, it can be this weekend in the ACC tournament.”

Corey Erb may be contacted at c.erb@umiami.edu.