The No. 1 on Caprice Dennis’ jersey makes her thin body look even thinner, but the University of Miami sophomore guard has been carrying the scoring load for the Hurricanes so far this season.
Coming off a career-high, 26-point performance against Yale, Dennis was on fire again in a 78-57 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn on Friday afternoon, the opening game of UM’s Thanksgiving Tournament.
Dennis made her first four shots — three of them three-pointers — to help UM race to an 18-point lead, and she wound up with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting. She scored 17 points before halftime and lifted her scoring average to 21 points per game.
“She’s obviously filling a huge void for us with her scoring,” UM coach Katie Meier said. “I told her at halftime we’d need her to use her as a distributor in the second half because they were blanketing her.”
Meier gave her players an earful at halftime. She was displeased that their 18-point lead shrank to three points with four minutes to go in the half after the Terriers went on a 13-3 run that included three three-pointers in a row. UM led 40-32 at halftime.
“That game was a roller coaster,” Meier said. “There were some beautiful offensive plays by both teams. St. Francis shared the ball well, made us defend east-west instead of just north-south. They reversed the ball well, had a ton of poise, and it really bothered us. I really got on [the players] at halftime. I told them they were playing really immaturely. I was pretty rough on them. The start of the second half was phenomenal.”
Meier decided to use Dennis as a decoy early in the second half, and the plan worked. St. Francis focused on Dennis, she kicked the ball to Krystal Saunders beyond the arc two possessions in a row, and Saunders made both three pointers to put the Canes up by 14.
Keyona Hayes had 15 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks for UM. Saunders had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Sarah Benedetti led the Terriers with 18 points.
Canes starting forward Jassany Williams went down with an ankle injury and will likely miss Saturday’s game.
UM will play Missouri at 3 p.m. Saturday in the tournament championship game. The Tigers beat Hartford 68-45 in Friday’s other game.