Senior Day for Miami’s women’s basketball team started with senior Necole Sterling sinking a three-pointer for the game’s first points.
Forty-four seconds later, Miami’s only lead Sunday was gone, and No. 9 Florida State was on its way to routing its arch rival as it did three weeks earlier in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles beat the Hurricanes 69-55 at BankUnited Center, leading by as many as 22 in the second half while securing their school-record 27th regular-season win. The Canes pulled within nine points twice in the final eight minutes, but couldn’t avoid losing their fourth consecutive game.
“It’s very hard to come back from the deficit we were at in the first half, and it’s extremely hard to do it against such a talented team that’s so balanced,” said UM coach Katie Meier, whose team has dropped five of its past seven, starting with an 80-60 loss to FSU on Feb. 8. “So to even have the courage to even attempt a comeback was remarkable.”
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Maegan Conwright scored 17 points to lead four Seminoles in double figures. Ivey Slaughter posted 13 and nine rebounds, and Leticia Romero racked up 12 points and 12 rebounds. FSU’s leading scorer and rebounder Adut Bulgak finished with just six points and five rebounds in 16 minutes because of foul trouble, but it didn’t matter.
Afterward, FSU coach Sue Semrau said her team (27-3, 14-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) “isn’t nearly as good as we can be yet.”
Added Conwright: “That maturity for us as a team to not be satisfied and keep wanting to grow makes us a better team.’’
Miami (18-11, 8-8), which will next face Virginia on Thursday in the first round of the ACC Tournament, should secure an NCAA Tournament berth by winning that game, Meier said. The Hurricanes entered Sunday’s game having lost three games by a combined five points.
This game wouldn’t be close, though, with the Canes shooting just 23.5 percent (8 for 34) in the first half while posting just 22 points. They cut the Seminoles’ lead to single digits in the second half with an 18-5 run, but a 16-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
Sophomore Adrienne Motley led Miami with 20 points. Junior Michelle Woods added 12 points and Sterling had nine as well as a team-high six rebounds. Senior Jassany Williams blocked five shots to slide up to second on UM’s list of blocks in a single season with 66.
“It’s exciting for me,” Williams said of going up against FSU, “because I love defense and feel that’s where I make my stamp with the team.”
Said Meier: “We were on an 18-5 run and feeling great about ourselves. At that point, though, we had some exhaustion turnovers. It was so hard to stop Florida State’s high-volume offense. … I am not exaggerating when I say Florida State is a potential Final Four team.”