Only a couple of games into the daunting Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, University of Miami coach Katie Meier spent the week practicing late-game scenarios.
Though the Hurricanes had won their previous four games by 20 points or more, senior guard Stefanie Yderstrom played the role of coach after hypothetically fouling out. She and her teammates worked together to develop ideas.
That preparation paid off as the Hurricanes overcame a frenzied rally by the Virginia Cavaliers in a 58-52 victory Sunday afternoon at the BankUnited Center.
For the first time in five career games in Coral Gables, Virginia (9-5, 1-2 ACC) lost. Miami (11-2, 3-0 ACC) improved to 12-0 when leading at the half and 1-2 on Sundays.
“That’s ACC basketball right there,” Meier said. “Physical, cerebral … We’re exhausted. That was a really, really great win for our program.”
After Miami took its largest lead at 43-29 on sophomore guard Suriya McGuire’s 3-pointer with 13:52, Virginia rattled off a 17-2 run.
Junior guard Ataira Franklin’s three-pointer gave the Cavs their first lead at 46-45 since senior forward Telia McCall’s jumper six minutes into the game.
“It was a quick run,” said Yderstrom, who led the Hurricanes with 17 points. “We were actually a little surprised, but we had to regain our focus. I think we lost focus a little bit. I think both teams were tired because we were running up and down.”
Miami, which went into the bonus with 7:53 to go, countered with a pair of Yderstrom free throws and a three-pointer to capture a 50-46 lead with 5:28 remaining. McGuire, who came off the bench to score nine points, followed with the next four points for the Canes.
A 7-2 run opened up the game for the Canes before the Cavaliers called a timeout. They would then outscore Miami 8-2 to take the lead on McCall’s jumper.
Virginia missed its next eight baskets and turned the ball over twice during a stretch of four scoreless minutes, but Miami tallied just four points. On two separate occasions, the Cavaliers tied the game at 17 and 25. Miami closed the half with the final four points to take a 29-25 lead.
As a team, Virginia outscored Miami, 34-16, in the paint. Junior guard Kelsey Wolfe scored a game-high 18 points.
“For us to get our confidence and have pressure on us — it’s been a long week with game after game,” McGuire said. “It wears down your body, but it’s still worth it.”
Miami completed its perfect five-game homestand, which began four days after a 42-34 loss to Rutgers on the road.
Receiving votes in both polls, the Canes have also won nine of the last 10 as they embark on a crucial two-game road swing to visit No. 8 Maryland and No. 19 Florida State.
“We have our steady Stef and [Morgan Stroman], but then we’ll have someone like [McGuire] pop up and have an enormous game,” Meier said. “We went right to her for basically the game-winning bucket. … We learned a lot. That’s the late-game ACC scenario we need to live and experience it.”