The University of Miami women’s basketball team, playing like it had something to prove after being dumped from the Top 25, led from start to finish and beat Pittsburgh 79-55 at the BankUnited Center on Thursday night.
Adrienne Motley, who went 0 for 9 in a 20-point road loss to Virginia on Sunday, looked like her old “Money Mot” self.
She led the Hurricanes on Thursday with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and had three steals.
Keyona Hayes, wearing a mask to protect a broken nose, was a perfect 7 for 7 for 15 points.
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Michelle Woods fell just shy of a triple-double with 11 points, and career highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (nine). Pitt (8-7) was led by freshman Brenna Wise (15 points).
The Hurricanes (14-2) had worked so hard to get noticed by the national pollsters, finally broke into the Top 25 with a 10-0 start, rose to No. 22 and then, just like that, went back to being unranked after the loss to Virginia to open the New Year.
In that game, Motley and Woods were a combined 0 for 15, and the normally careful Canes turned the ball over 28 times.
It was only their second loss of the season, their first a close one to No. 4 Baylor, but it was enough to knock the Hurricanes back to the pack of teams “Also Receiving Votes.”
Twelve teams with three or more losses remain ranked, including No. 24 DePaul (10-5), but the voters cut the Canes no slack.
“Our mood was a little bit bleak [after the Virginia loss],” UM coach Katie Meier said.
“But it was more disappointment in ourselves for not being ready than ‘What happened?’ We knew what happened, just had to address it.”
Meier and her team “talked a good long time in the back of the plane” on the flight home, and Motley came up with the word of the day: Complacent.
“We were complacent, Virginia was not,” Meier said. “But we cleaned that up. We understand we’re in a great conference. There are all sorts of upsets. The team that’s most excited to play and has a great deal of readiness is going to win. We got a good lesson, and got it early.”
When they got back to campus, Meier had her players dissect the game tape quarter by quarter (each class was assigned a quarter), and present a report to the group.
The Canes still looked a bit out of sorts in the opening minutes against Pittsburgh, but picked it up and shot 64 percent in the second half and a season-best 52.5 percent for the game.
“We were a little hesitant, still some lingering doubt from our [Virginia] performance,” Meier said.
“But I think we showed great faith. Faith is confidence with patience. We knew we’d get there. Nobody hung their heads or doubted themselves. Second and third quarters were phenomenal. We really lit it up.”
Motley said the team “got its groove back” and is not looking back. “It’s a long ACC season,” she said.
UM plays at Clemson on Sunday.