University of Miami

Huskies’ backcourt will challenge Miami Hurricanes

Washington’s Kelsey Plum averages 22.8 points per game.
Washington’s Kelsey Plum averages 22.8 points per game. AP

When the University of Miami women’s basketball team lines up in Iowa City, Iowa, at noon Friday for its NCAA Tournament opener against Washington, Hurricanes coach Katie Meier will be acutely aware of the Huskies’ star guard, Kelsey Plum.

Meier recruited Plum out of La Jolla Country Day High in San Diego and coached her to a gold medal in the Under-19 World Championship in Lithuania in 2013. When Plum was in Miami with her family on vacation over the Christmas holiday, she called Meier and worked out in the Hurricanes’ gym.

“Kelsey Plum and I are very familiar with each other,” Meier said at a news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday afternoon. “We did USA Basketball together and spent some time in Lithuania.

“I believe her mother is the one that brought me hair dye on the last day of the world championships because my hair grayed out a little bit trying to get that gold medal. Katie Plum came by the hotel and gave us hair dye.

“I’m pretty familiar with Kelsey and her ability. Their backcourt is phenomenal.”

Sixth-seeded Washington (23-9, 11-7 Pac-12) has one of the top scoring backcourts in the country with Plum and Jazmine Davis. Both earned All-Pac-12 honors, and Plum is a top-15 candidate for the Wooden Award. They combined to average 38.7 points, second-best guard tandem in the country.

Combined, Davis and Plum scored 1,238 points, which trails only Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston of Ohio State (1,461) for any duo in the nation. Davis also averages 4.2 assists per game and Plum 3.3.

Plum ranks seventh in the NCAA with 22.8 points per game, had seven games with 30-plus points and scored 45 against Oklahoma. She was the fastest to reach 1,000 points in school history and second in Pac-12 history.

“Mike [Neighbors] does a great job of giving them space and room. I think we have very similar offensive philosophies,” Meier said.

The 11th-seeded Hurricanes, in their fourth NCAA Tournament in the past five years, are led by guard Adrienne Motley. She scored in double digits in 27 of 31 games and was first-team ACC. Senior Suriya McGuire is in her third NCAA Tournament and one of the team’s most spirited leaders.

“We are going to show you who we are,” Meier said. “We are going to give you our hearts. We are going to fight and claw and do whatever needs to be done. When you give Miami an opportunity, we are going to take it and we have been opportunistic all season.

“We are happy to be here and have a heck of a matchup in Washington. I think this is one of the more exciting first-day games in the whole tournament. Good scoring from the backcourts on both teams and the physicality and tempo. So I think a lot of TV sets should tune into this game.”

UM women vs. Washington

What: Women’s NCAA Tournament first-round game.

When/where: Noon; Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa.

TV/radio: ESPN2, WVUM-90.5 FM

Seeds/records: No 11. UM 19-12, 8-8 ACC; No 6. Washington 23-9, 11-7 Pac-12.

Noteworthy: The Huskies are in the tournament for the first time since 2007, the Canes for the fourth time in five years. … The winner of Friday’s game plays the winner of No 3. Iowa vs. No 14. American on Sunday in the second round. … UM allows 59.5 points per game.

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