A little nap preceded an eye-opening performance Friday by Miami’s Adrienne Motley.
The sophomore scored 30 points to help lead the 11th-seeded Hurricanes to an 86-80 win over sixth-seeded Washington in the opening round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I woke up from a quick nap after our pregame meal feeling good, feeling like it was going to be a good day,” Motley said.
It proved to be that and more for the Hurricanes, who held the Huskies to 28-of-69 shooting to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Miami will face third-seeded Iowa, a 75-67 winner over first-time NCAA qualifier American at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Hurricanes didn’t secure that spot until after freshman Erykah Davenport grabbed a rebound off a missed Miami free throw with 23 seconds remaining, extending a possession and denying the Huskies a chance to cut into an 82-78 deficit.
“After that, I saw the reality in the eyes of my team. The look changed,” said Washington coach Mike Neighbors, his team unable to counter the 12-of-16 shooting of the Hurricanes at the free-throw line over the final 1 minute 21 seconds.
It was Motley who broke a 71-71 tie with 2:40 remaining, coming off of a screen to knock down a jumper that put Miami ahead to stay.
The final field goal of game for the Hurricanes came as part of a 10-of-18 game by Motley, who finished two points shy of the 32-point performance she had in a win over Notre Dame this season.
“There were a lot of possessions where she didn’t start with the ball in her hands offensively, but she ended it up with it and knew what to do with it,” Miami coach Katie Meier said.
Motley split her points evenly between halves in an outing complemented by 19 points from Jessica Thomas and 17 from Michelle Woods.
But Meier credited Woods’ defensive effort on Washington’s Kelsey Plum with establishing a defensive difference.
“We knew the defense played by our guards was going to have a lot to do with the outcome,” Meier said. “They delivered. Woods set a great tone, and they all delivered.”
Plum, the Huskies’ leading scorer, connected on 5-of-14 shots finished nearly six points below her average with a team-high 17 points.
“To watch [Woods] put the pressure she put on one of the best players in the Pac-12, to get the stops she did and the way she worked, it got us all going,” Thomas said.
The Hurricanes (20-12) held the Huskies scoreless from the field over the final 3:48 of the opening half, building a 41-33 lead by the break.
Washington missed its final nine shots of the half as Miami erased a 25-21 deficit, tying the game at 28-28 on a Woods three-pointer with 5:04 remaining and using eight points by Motley over the final 4:03 to create its halftime advantage.
“With the exception of that stretch at the end of the first half, I felt like we played about as well as we could, did about all we could do,’’ Neighbors said. “It was some of our best execution of the year but credit Miami, it wasn’t enough today.”