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