GREENSBORO, N.C. -- There were some tense moments for Miami in the opening round of the ACC Womens Tournament on Thursday. Virginia Tech put together an inspiring second-half run, but the heavily-favored Hurricanes regrouped in time to secure a 45-39 victory.
With the win, fifth-seeded Miami (21-9) advances to play No. 4 seed Florida State in the quarterfinals on Friday at 11 a.m.
This wasnt the prettiest of wins, but thats whats different about this team, UM coach Katie Meier said. Weve won games in so many different ways this season. We can adapt to any style.
Both teams had problems putting points on the board. Suffocating defense played both teams was a factor, but ice-cold shooting was also partly the reason for the lack of offense. Miami, which led 21-8 at intermission, shot 28.6 percent from the field. The 12th-seeded Hokies were even more off target (26.9 percent for the game), which included a 3-of-14 shooting effort in the first half.
The Hurricanes, led by Morgan Stromans game-high 13 rebounds, helped their cause by controlling boards with a decisive 45-30 edge.
Morgan had three of four ridiculous hustle plays plays that help you win, but dont show up on the stat sheet, Meier said. Thirteen rebounds and energy and effort are really what you need when your backs are against the wall like that.
Virginia Tech (10-20) was so out of sync offensively that it took until the second half to reach double figures. Uju Ugoka scored on back-to-back possessions at the start of the second half and the Hokies began to make a game of it.
Over a six-minute stretch, Virginia Tech went on a 13-3 to cut Miamis lead to 30-27 on a pair free throws by Alyssa Fenyn with 6:03 left to play in the game. The Hurricanes countered by getting the ball inside to 6-6 center Shawnice Wilson, whose inside scoring helped to keep the Hokies at bay. When the game got tight, my teammates kept telling me that they were going to get the ball to me, said Wilson, who had 17 points and eight rebounds. Once I got the ball, all I focused on was taking my time, squaring up and finishing the play.
Even with Wilson scoring in the paint, Virginia Tech refused to back down. Ugoka scored on a short jumper to trim Miamis lead to 35-31 with just four minutes to go. The Hurricanes had an answer on the next possession when point guard Stefanie Yderstrom hit a 30-foot, three-pointer right before the shot clock expired.
The Hokies got a basket from Monet Tellier, but over the next 1:30, they went scoreless and Miami converted three foul shots to push its lead to 43-33 with less than 40 seconds remaining. Ugoka and Tellier contributed 11 points each.