It was not the kind of game University of Miami co-captain Michelle Woods envisioned for her Senior Night. In fact, it’s a game she would surely like to forget.
Woods’ lasting memory of her final game at BankUnited Center will be of the 17th-ranked Hurricanes suffering their worst loss of the season, a 79-51 thumping by No. 10 Louisville.
The Cardinals have won 20 of their past 21 after opening the season 1-4 and dropping out of the Top 25. They showed no signs of slowing down against UM, outrebounding Miami 53-28 and outscoring the Canes 22-5 on second-chance points. Their domination on the boards began immediately after the opening whistle. On the first possession of the game, the Cardinals grabbed four offensive rebounds.
“That was really disheartening,” UM coach Katie Meier said. “I shook my head right there and thought that was a really bad omen.’’
The BankUnited Center crowd included a sizable contingent of red-clad Louisville fans — including members of the 11th-ranked Cardinals men’s team, who play the 12th-ranked Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon here. Four Cardinals scored in double figures, led by Myisha Hines-Allen with 15 points, followed by Mariya Moore (14), Briahanna Jackson (13) and Asia Durr (11).
“I didn’t see that coming,’’ Louisville coach Jeff Walz admitted. “We had a lot of respect for Miami, and we still do.’’
The evening started with a ceremony honoring Woods, UM’s lone senior. That Woods made it to her senior season at all was a minor miracle, as she sustained serious injuries in a car accident on July 4, 2013. Woods, along with three teammates, were in a crash, and Woods broke her sternum and sat out the 2013-14 season.
“I’m sad for her because she doesn’t deserve that,” Meier said of Woods’ final game. “I told the team the way to honor her is to bust your butt. She’s done that for five years. I don’t want this to be her lasting memory. Something else special is coming. We’ve gotta do better for her. She really deserves it.”
Miami stayed close to Louisville early, leading 11-10, and trailed by just one midway through the first quarter. But then the Cardinals went on a 20-2 run to close the half. They led 40-21 at intermission, and the second half unraveled quickly for UM, as it gave up 21 consecutive points to fall behind 61-26.
“That effort by Louisville was astounding, and they’re a great rebounding team, but we’re not that soft,’’ Meier said. “But we were tonight. We got the game handed to us on the glass and toughness plays … an absolute across-the-board washout of physicality. We’ve got to spend a little more time in the weight room and going after each other in practice to play as tough as they do because I bet they don’t complain about not getting a call in practice, bet they don’t say, ‘Quit hitting me.’ I’ve got to change the tone of my practices. That’s on me, and I will.’’