One week ago, the Miami Hurricanes suffered a lopsided road defeat to No. 4 Duke that capped a 4-5 record in January. It had come four days after a heartbreaking loss to No. 12 North Carolina at the buzzer.
The first thing coach Katie Meier asked of her team following the game was to keep the pouty attitudes away from the film and locker rooms, instead focusing on the things it could celebrate.
At that first practice when she tried to huddle the team, Meier said they were so overwhelmingly positive and confident that her voice cracked.
Miami bounced back in its first game since the loss to the Blue Devils and the start of a new month with a 68-42 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon at BankUnited Center.
Ive never had a team that I saw as low as that team in the second half at Duke, said Meier, whose Hurricanes were outscored 53-14 in the second half of that game and lost 82-43. It needed to change, and I think it did.
Three players finished in double digits, led by sophomore guard Michelle Woods 15 points. Senior guard Stefanie Yderstrom added 11, nine in the second half.
In an early back-and-forth game, the Hurricanes (15-7, 6-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) went on an 11-6 run to take a 17-12 lead. Miami took a 39-23 halftime advantage by closing out the final 7:45 on a 15-4 run that began with a pair of offensive rebounds and a free throw by senior Pepper Wilson.
There was that stretch at the end of the first half and in the beginning of the second half where we really played great Miami basketball, Meier said. It was nice to go on a run on someone else. We needed it. We really needed to get that out of our system. I thought a lot of it was our tempo and guard play.
Sophomore guard Suriya McGuire paced the Canes with 10 first-half points, shooting 5 of 6 from the field.
Yderstrom, who was held scoreless against Duke and failed to record double digits in three of the past five games, didnt collect her first points until she reached the free-throw line with 2:41 left in the half.
As a team, Miami had 13 first-half offensive rebounds 21 overall and tallied 13 second-chance points.
We go into every game wanting to crash the boards, said freshman forward Keyona Hayes, who finished with a team-high 11 rebounds, seven on offense. The boards are a big deal for [coach]. We have to get rebounds to get runs, so we box out and do like she tells us to.
I just think we had more legs than we had last game getting rebounds.
Over the final 20 minutes, Miami maintained a 20-plus-point lead twice with a 28-point advantage despite making just 32.4 percent of its shots. The defense forced 20 turnovers and held Virginia Tech to a 20.7 field-goal percentage.
Freshman guard Lauren Evans scored 12 points for the Hokies (7-14, 1-9), who have lost nine in a row.
Junior forward Uju Ugoka contributed 12 off the bench for the Hokies.
• During a media timeout with 3:59 remaining in the first half, the UM athletic department and the Austen Everett Foundation presented Deja Webster, 15, with a signed basketball.
Webster, who finished chemotherapy this week and spent time with the team at practice, sat on the bench for the game. Everett, a goalkeeper for the UM womens soccer team from 2007 to 2009, lost her battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma this past August. The foundation raises money to have athletes spend time with children with cancer and other terminal diseases.
Life could be so much worse for us, McGuire said. For us to have an impact on her and she wanting to spend time with us and with our day, it opened my eyes to other things.
The end of the world doesnt happen when you miss a shot or when you get a loss. We all need to stick together as a team and just be happy in the moment.