Led by a season-high 21 points from senior point guard Jessica Thomas, the No. 18 Miami Hurricanes won its seventh straight game 66-56 in a hard-fought contest against the resilient Old Dominion Lady Monarchs.
Redshirt senior forward Keyona Hayes, who finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds, made her impact from the opening tip. She scored back-to-back layups in the game’s first two minutes, helping the Hurricanes get out to an early 10-0 lead. The Lady Monarchs answered quickly with a run to get back into the game as the first quarter ended with the Canes leading 16-12.
“She is very good,” Head Coach Katie Meier said of Karen Barefoot, Old Dominion’s head coach. “I let her know and I let her team know that they were the toughest team we’ve played all year.”
Miami hit a cold streak, going 1-12 from the field in the second period, but was able to keep the game close with solid defense. Led by 10 points from redshirt senior guard Jennie Simms, the second-leading scorer in the nation, Old Dominion took a 25-23 advantage into halftime.
The Hurricanes came out of the locker room in sync, scoring seven straight points and eventually gaining a seven-point lead. The Lady Monarchs closed the quarter strong, but the Canes still held a three-point lead going into the final quarter.
“This year, as seniors and as leaders, it’s big for us every single night to come out and be efficient,” Thomas said. “Winning games; that’s the main key and that’s what we want to do.”
Thomas took the game into her own hands to start the fourth quarter, hitting back-to-back three-pointers and assisting Hayes on an old-fashioned three-point play. With 7:24 left in the game, Miami obtained its first double-digit advantage since the opening minutes. Two jump shots hit late by senior guard Nigia Greene sealed the deal for the Canes.
“One thing we thought we could get on them was transition,” Meier said. “Obviously, we got it early and then we got it late, but we didn’t get it in the middle. When we didn’t get it, they were beating us. A big three by her [Greene], huge shots by JT, and Key is just playing such great basketball right now.”
Thomas has scored in double-figures every game this season. Hayes notched her fourth double-figure scoring contest of the season.
“We just come out and try to play hard,” Hayes said. “We try to make a name for our team, so we won’t have to go through what we went through in the first round last year of the NCAA Tournament.”
Miami will look to extend its winning streak as the team hosts Loyola Chicago at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Watsco Center.