UM women de­feat FGCU in first round,

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos ccabr­[email protected]­tinel.com; On Twit­ter @ChristyChiri­nos.

CORAL GABLES — The Hur­ri­canes knew what was com­ing. They’d ex­pe­ri­enced it be­fore, two years ear­lier on this same floor, in this same sce­nario.

And yet, there were stretches where it seemed they were pow­er­less to stop an up­set-minded Florida Gulf Coast team that came to Coral Gables in­tent on us­ing its solid perime­ter shoot­ing to knock Mi­ami out of the NCAA Tour­na­ment well be­fore many ex­pected the Hur­ri­canes to exit.

In the sec­ond half, the Ea­gles’ 3-point­ers be­gan to fall. Mi­ami’s dou­ble-digit, sec­ond-half lead dis­ap­peared. And there was un­cer­tainty as to whether the Hur­ri­canes — a No. 4 seed who’d earned the right to host open­ing-round tour­na­ment games be­cause of a re­sume that in­cluded wins over the likes of Notre Dame, Louisville and Syra­cuse — would see their sea­son con­tinue.

Ul­ti­mately, though, the Hur­ri­canes weath­ered the storm, go­ing on an 11-0 run mid­way through the fourth quar­ter to give them­selves some breath­ing room be­fore Mi­ami fi­nally closed out a 69-62 win over FGCU late Fri­day in Coral Gables.

Dur­ing that cru­cial stretch, two of the Hur­ri­canes’ top scor­ers paved the way, with Mykea Gray hit­ting five straight from the free throw line to start the run and Beatrice Mom­premier de­liv­er­ing a pair of buck­ets in the paint to help Mi­ami dis­tance it­self from FGCU, which fin­ished 12 of 40 from 3-point range.

“They’re very tough and we know they live and die by the 3-ball. We knew that com­ing in,” said Hur­ri­canes red­shirt ju­nior Laura Cor­nelius, who was on the 2017 team that edged FGCU in the first round of the NCAA

Tour­na­ment in a game that was re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to the one played Fri­day. “We knew in the sec­ond half they were go­ing to go on a big run. We just knew it was com­ing at some point.

“We had to sur­vive it, ba­si­cally.”

Sur­vive the Hur­ri­canes did, with Mom­premier post­ing a team-high 21 points and 10 re­bounds to lead the Hur­ri­canes. En­dia Banks added a sea­son-high

14 points, in­clud­ing three well-time 3-point­ers, while Gray and Emese Hof each had 10 points.

Hof also grabbed 12 re­bounds and both of Mi­ami’s first-team All-ACC post play­ers notched dou­ble­dou­bles.

Now, Mi­ami must turn its fo­cus to a sec­ond-round matchup Sun­day night with fifth-seeded Ari­zona State, which ad­vanced af­ter a

60-45 win over UCF in Fri­day night’s early game at the Watsco Cen­ter.

Tip-off for that Round of

32 game is set for 7 p.m. The Hur­ri­canes opened the game on a 7-0 run and quickly built a 15-6 firstquar­ter lead while the Ea­gles — who had won 19 straight — couldn’t con­nect from be­yond the arc.

By half, the Hur­ri­canes had built a dou­ble-digit lead and in the open­ing min­utes

of the third quar­ter, the lead grew to 14 points af­ter Mom­premier opened the sec­ond-half scor­ing for Mi­ami (28-5).

Then FGCU’s 3-point­ers be­gan fall­ing, with both Keri Jewett-Giles and Ty­tio­nia Ad­derly con­nect­ing from long range to help pull the Ea­gles within, 43-37.

Mo­ments later, an­other

3-pointer from Ad­derly tied the game at, 48, and in early in the fourth, one of Jewet­tGiles 3-point­ers gave the Ea­gles a 51-50 lead — their only lead in the game.

“They’re so tal­ented and one of the top 3-point shoot­ing teams in the coun­try,” Hur­ri­canes coach Katie Meier said. “We an­swered their 3’s with fa­tigued of­fense and we’re lucky we got away with that be­cause when they went on that run, our an­swers weren’t sharp. It was two con­ver­sa­tions in the hud­dle be­fore we woke up and then I thought we went back to re­ally ex­e­cut­ing crisply and sharply.”

Tay­lor Ma­son hit a

3-pointer that put Mi­ami back on top with 8:48 left. Then came the 11-0 run fu­eled by Gray, Banks and Mom­premier that sent the ’Canes to the sec­ond round.

LUIS M. AL­VAREZ/AP

Mi­ami for­ward Beatrice Mom­premier at­tempts to go around Florida Gulf Coast guard Des­tiny Wash­ing­tonMabon dur­ing a first round game Fri­day in Coral Gables.

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