The University of Miami women’s basketball team looked like the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best three-point shooting team Sunday afternoon at BankUnited Center.
The Hurricanes hit 11 of their 27 attempts from behind the arc to defeat No. 20 North Carolina State 80-71.
The Wolfpack entered the game leading the conference with 8.3 three-pointers per game, but only managed to hit five all game, all of which came in the second half.
Senior guard Krystal Saunders led the way for Miami with a career-best 22 points, including six three-pointers, another career high. Saunders took over the game in the second half, scoring 15 points in the stanza on 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range.
“I thought our shot chart was really balanced and really spread out,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “When Krystal’s hot like that, we’re a very dangerous team and a very confident team.”
Saunders joked that the rim has never looked that big for her in her career.
“It was pretty huge,” Saunders said. “I was really feeling it, and it was a great feeling. My teammates found me in great places, all of my guards have great vision, and I was just happy they were able to find me and I was able to knock it down.”
North Carolina State did have a distinct advantage in the paint, where it scored 36 points, but Miami was able to neutralize the Wolfpack from the perimeter with tough defense. Markeisha Gatling had a field day in the post for North Carolina State with 25 points, and Meier said the Hurricanes had no answer for the center.
But the Hurricanes played stingy defense outside 15 feet, which proved to be the difference in the game. Meier showed her team the shot chart from the first half at halftime and highlighted that almost all of North Carolina State’s shots came in the paint. She credited her players for making the necessary adjustments to disrupt the flow of the Wolfpack’s offense.
“Our defense between the hash marks and not giving them time to then run their sets and take advantage of the mismatches,” Meier said, “that was just 100 percent reads by my team and individual effort and energy.”
Meier said she felt her smaller lineup in the second half was the difference in the game. The coach slid junior Suriya McGuire to power forward and the guard responded to the move scoring 10 points and grabbing six boards in the second half to finish with her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hurricanes established an early lead by capitalizing on the Wolfpack’s misfortunes and crashing the glass. North Carolina State turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, which led to 11 points on the other end for Miami. The Hurricanes also cleaned up after themselves well, scoring 13 second-chance points in the opening half. Miami finished with 16 points off turnovers and 17 second-chance points.