No holiday surprise awaited the two teams and 150 fans at Bank United Center for Tuesday afternoon’s FIU vs. Hurricanes women’s basketball game. The occurrence and manner of UM’s 83-55 rout matched socks-from-Grandma predictability.
A mature team, ranked No. 23 by the writers and No. 20 by the coaches, with only one loss overwhelmed a team with five wins over the last two seasons and a first-year coach. And the Hurricanes (12-1) blitzed FIU (2-7) via rebounding –— 51-28 overall, 26 UM offensive rebounds to 20 FIU defensive rebounds — and had a 20-0 advantage in second chance points.
The crushing margin didn’t require the presence of 6-3 Hurricanes freshman center Emese Hof, who went down early in the game with what appeared to be a knee injury, came back briefly, but played only seven minutes.
Fifth-year senior Michelle Woods pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with her 10 points, her first career double-double. Juniors Adrienne Motley (19 points) and Jessica Thomas (15 points) led the Hurricanes in scoring, while FIU freshman guard Kristian Hudson took game-high honors with 20.
Hudson’s three-pointer and jumper in the lane sparked FIU’s 10-0 run to open the second half. With UM’s 13-point halftime lead cut to 44-41, Hurricanes coach Katie Meier eschewed the almost rote coaching move of calling a timeout. She thought the halftime break allowed UM to feel fatigue from a third game in four days. She didn’t want another break to do the same.
“Credit to FIU, they played with great energy. You could just see we didn’t have our legs. We’re going to be in situations like that on the road, where we’re tired, or there’s a delay and we have a built-in excuse. We’re just not going to use them. We’re going to fight through and keep playing.”
Motley drove for a layup. Thomas pulled down a defensive rebound, then hit a three-pointer. Motley scored on the third shot of a possession. UM’s answering run would stretch to 15-0, but those first seven points crushed the rebellion.
“I was proud of our bunch today,” FIU coach Marlin Chinn said. “They really competed today. They did a very, very nice job of executing what we wanted to do. We got a lot of good looks at the basket and fortunately for us they went in. Our issue, as we knew coming into the season, was rebounding.”
This meeting, the first in women’s basketball between Miami-Dade’s two Division I schools since 2008, continues the thawing of the athletic cold war that ran for almost seven years during which the schools didn’t schedule each other in any sport.
“]Local rivalries] are good games to put in a trap-game situation, which, Dec. 21, Dec. 22, across the country, there are always upsets,” Meier said. “The top teams always get upset in these games because you’re done with finals and the kids are already looking at their departure times at halftime. Our players did not do that because there’s a lot of respect for FIU. So, this is a great game to put in this slot.”
Chinn said, “Obviously, Miami’s in the ACC and they’re the Power Five school here. So to go up against them, just to see where we are every year before we go into our conference play is always good. [They’re] going to give us great competition every year and we look forward to it.”