It wasn’t easy, but Miami women’s basketball defended home court to snap a three-game skid.
Trailing by five points with under eight minutes left, the Hurricanes turned to veteran sharpshooter in Kelsey Marshall for a spark. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-leading 3-point scorer knocked down a triple to ignite a 16-2 Hurricanes run and a 70-63 win over Tulane at the Watsco Center Sunday.
“I think it was a really hard-fought basketball game,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “There were two teams who really wanted to win and battled hard.”
Marshall led Miami (4-3) in scoring for the fourth time in seven contests, finishing with a game-high 19 points. The graduate guard collected five 3-point shots on the third occasion this year, needing seven more to become Miami’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals.
“I just told her in the locker room that she’s just been phenomenal,” Meier said. “She really wanted this year to be very special and she’s just leading … She’s helping me coach, she’s giving me suggestions. We’ve had a lot of conversations, ‘What shot do you want? What play do you want?’ and we’re very familiar with each other. So, I think she did a great job of keeping everyone calm and running the show.”
Tulane (6-3) began to erase an 8-point Hurricanes advantage halfway through the second. Back-to-back 3-point shots from guard Kaila Anderson and forward Irina Parau gave the Green Wave the lead heading into halftime, after squandering a 7-point lead in the first. Forward Krystal Freeman led the visitors with 17.
Senior forward Naomi Mbandu scored five straight points to guide UM on a 9-0 burst in the third, while the Hurricanes made half of their shot attempts. Senior guard Karla Erjavec later drilled a three as the lead continued to shift into the final frame. Seven total lead changes and six ties occurred.
Each team committed 16 turnovers, yet the Hurricanes scored 21 points off Tulane’s giveaways and outrebounded the Green Wave 41-34. Miami entered the matchup ranking first in the ACC in turnovers forced per game (21.1).
Junior forward Lola Pendande, a Utah transfer, teamed up with graduate transfer forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi for 17 combined rebounds. Junior forward Moulayna Johnson Sidi-Baba added seven.
“I thought our bigs in Lola, and Maeva and MJ just got some huge, huge rebounds and some stops at the rim, which really kind of fortified our game, and let us get out and get a little bit free and score a little bit more,” Meier said.
Freshman guard Ja’Leah Williams logged six of a career-high 15 points in the final seven minutes, and guard Lashae Dwyer added 10.
“Kelsey [Marshall] and Karla [Erjavec] are holding down the fort, but the energy is coming from the [freshmen] as well,” Meier said. “That makes you happy as a coach – that they are getting so smart and have consistently been competitive, but now they are competing within the offenses and understanding the ‘whys.’”
Four Hurricanes again totaled double digits in the scoring column following a loss to No. 8 Maryland Thursday. Miami next plays Arkansas-Pine Bluff tomorrow at 1 p.m. in its final game of the Miami Holiday Classic at the Watsco Center.
“[Arkansas-Pine Bluff] is ferocious,” Meier said. “They are incredible to the glass. They’ve got some rebounders that are just relentless to the glass and we are going to need that defensive rebounding effort.”