Promising season comes to disappointing end at Gonzaga

Former All-ACC guard Riquna Williams evades two North Carolina defenders on her way to the rim. Zach Beeker // Staff Photographer

Both Miami basketball teams’ seasons came to abrupt ends on opposite ends of the country last spring, as both were eliminated early in their respective postseason tournaments.

First the Miami men were mauled by Minnesota, 78-60, in a second-round NIT home game, and about half an hour later, the women’s magical season and push for the Final Four was spoiled against Gonzaga, 65-54.

One star was notably absent from each team. Senior Riquna Williams, the women’s second-leading scorer, was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and did not accompany the team on its trip to Spokane, Wash.

For the Miami women, the loss to Gonzaga ended what looked to be the team’s best chance at a deep postseason run in recent memory.

Senior Shenise Johnson scored 20 points and snagged 13 rebounds to close an illustrious career at Miami. But poor team shooting doomed the third-seeded Hurricanes against the sharp Gonzaga defense.

After the second-round upset, Miami Coach Katie Meier remained upbeat.

“We did not play our best basketball game, but we played as hard as we could possibly play,” she said. “Without any question, we fought and fought and fought and fought.”

After a season that included a second consecutive perfect record at the BankUnited Center, as well as a run at the top spot in the ACC, a loss to Gonzaga in the second round was not the way that many envisioned the season coming to an end.

But anyone thinking that the loss wil affect the team in the long-term will be surprised.

“I’m happy for Gonzaga. They represent women’s basketball. I’m happy for that community,” Meier said. “It’s an awesome environment and an awesome experience for us.”

Although Johnson and Williams will no longer don the orange and green uniforms any longer, both were selected in the first round of the 2012 WNBA Draft in April.

They became the third and fourth Hurricanes to be drafted in program history, with Johnson being taken fifth overall by the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Williams was taken with the 17th pick overall by the Tulsa Shock.

I am so thrilled for Shenise and Riquna,” Meier said from the draft. “It is a dream-come-true moment for them both. It’s a statement to these young ladies and the great careers that they had.”