It was a classic tale of speed versus height at the BankUnited Center Sunday afternoon.
After 40 minutes of play, the 22nd-ranked Miami Hurricanes and stingy defense won out, 65-53, against the Boston College Eagles.
The Canes (18-1, 4-0 ACC) won their 17th straight game, which is the top streak in the nation, and 18th in a row at home.
Early in the second half, though, it didn’t look like UM would continue its winning ways.
Miami was held scoreless after missing its first five shots of the second half and trailed 34-27 before junior Shenise Johnson’s lay-up with 15:26.
“The only time I was worried was our start at the second half,” head coach Katie Meier said. “I thought they were going to run away with it.”
But the Hurricanes scored 12 unanswered points fueled by a full-court press defense and four steals and a block by Johnson.
The Wooden Midseason candidate finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and nine steals.
“We were down and we weren’t really ourselves in the second half,” Johnson said. “We had to do something and my shot wasn’t falling obviously, so I said ‘Okay, got to do it with D,’ and I’m usually the person who brings energy anyways.”
And after a first half in which Miami made just two of its 11 three-point attempts, junior Riquna Williams broke the game open with five from behind the arc.
On back-to-back possessions Williams connected from long distance and two free throws by Johnson extended the Hurricane lead to 10 points with under eight minutes to go.
Williams finished with a game-high 33 points, 21 of which she scored in the second half.
“It was like a mind game for me. Coach had said something and it kind of got in my head about a double pump,” Williams said. “‘I’m going to relax and just calm down.'”
BC (14-4, 1-2 ACC) came into the game averaging 84.9 points, which is second in the ACC and fifth in the nation, but was held far below that number.
Seniors Stefanie Murphy (6’4”) and Carolyn Swords (6’6”) gave the Eagles a clear height advantage, but were held to just 33 combined points. The pair also finished with double-digit rebounds.
Freshman Kristen Doherty added 12 points for BC, which collected just eight points from the rest of its team.
“I wore two-inch heels tonight just so my kids wouldn’t think that Boston College was so big,” Meier said.
Though Boston College held a 48-27 rebounding advantage, Miami created 31 turnovers, 20 fewer than it committed. The Eagles came into the game averaging 21.7 turnovers a game.
The Canes capitalized with 15 fast-break points.
Miami has some time off before it travels to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles (14-4, 2-1 ACC) at 7 p.m. Jan. 24.
“I think our next game is a big one. Pretty sure there’s a Tomahawk chop waiting,” Meier said. “We will continue to do this just as we built the program, just as we’ve done with our practices, just as we’ve done with our gameplans. It is always one thought, one task that we have to master at a time. I was amazed… We’re going to enjoy this, and then we’re going to work.”