SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The University of Miami women's basketball team logged its biggest win of the season thus far Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome, toppling No. 13 Syracuse, 84-71.
Despite battling foul trouble, senior forward/center Emese Hof paced Miami (17-4, 5-1 ACC) with 21 points and tied the school record with an 11-of-11 mark at the free-throw line, as the Hurricanes defeated their third top-25 foe of the year.
"I just loved our toughness. It was a game where we didn't have a ton of time to prepare and the players knew what was required," Miami head coach Katie Meier said. "With eight minutes to go, we called timeout. [We told the team], the only minutes we are losing this game—the only time Syracuse has been better than Miami—is when they are out hustling us. So, when they were first to the floor and they're getting those backside offensive rebounds. I said . . . we have to fix those things right now and I think that we did."
After a high-scoring, fast-paced first period, during which redshirt junior guard Laura Cornelius scored nine consecutive Miami points, Syracuse (15-4, 4-2 ACC) held a narrow 25-22 lead.
The second quarter featured seesaw action, opening with a 9-0 run by Miami in the first 2:11. The Orange answered with eight of the next 10 points, followed by the Hurricanes tallying 12 of the ensuing 14, with six coming on a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore guard Kelsey Marshall. Syracuse scored the last basket of the frame and the Hurricanes took a 45-37 edge into the locker room.
Miami shot 56.7 percent (17-of-30) in the opening 20 minutes, including 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from 3-point range. Meanwhile the Orange posted clips of 40.5 percent overall (17-of-42) and 12.5 percent (2-of-16) from deep.
The Hurricanes stretched their lead to 11 twice in the third session, but the Orange used an 8-0 run to pull back within three, 56-53. However, as the back-and-forth scoring continued, Miami tallied eight of the final 11 points of the period. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior guard/forward Sarah Mortensen made it 64-56 with 10 minutes left.
A 3-pointer by Syracuse sophomore forward Digna Strautmane cut the Miami edge to three, 70-67, with 3:32 remaining, but the Hurricanes took over the rest of the way. Miami scored 11 consecutive points to take an 81-67 advantage with 47 seconds left.
The Hurricanes, who shot 13-of-14 at the line in the final quarter, pushed their lead as high as 15, en route to their first top-15 victory away from home since March 3, 2017 against No. 8/12 Florida State in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in Conway, S.C.
"We didn't pout, we didn't drop our shoulders. When she hit that shot—I mean, that is what they do. No one made a mistake on that play," Meier said of Miami's answer down the stretch. "They had four shooters in at the time and their post play was killing us and we were in foul trouble, so we had to give that up. So I think, when he called that timeout, I wasn't mad at my team at all . . . [and I said,] 'We just have to execute down the stretch and we are fine.' I think the fact that we didn't pout in that situation was huge."
For some perspective, since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013, only four teams have defeated Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina in the same regular season.@CanesWBB joins Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State as the only teams to accomplish the feat. Pretty elite company. https://t.co/PORXv9HZJS— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) January 24, 2019
Hof's 20-point outing was the 11th of her career, including her seventh this season. She became the third Hurricane—fourth occurrence—to shoot 11-of-11 at the free throw line, including the first since Tamara James on Dec. 2, 2005 against Farleigh Dickinson. The 11 makes eclipsed her prior career high by two and the 11 attempts matched her top mark.
Redshirt junior Beatrice Mompremier notched her ACC-leading 15th double-double of the season, including her 10th in her past 11 outings and sixth in a row. The Miami native logged 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Redshirt junior guard Laura Cornelius also recorded a double-double, the first of her career, as she finished with 13 points and a career-best 10 assists to lead all players. She also doubled her career block total with a team-high two.
Sophomore guard Mykea Gray added 17 points in the victory, her 10th double-digit showing in the past 11 games and her seventh straight.
"We were just very focused, very locked in. I think it is fun to go on the road with this team," Meier said. "We had a little bit more time to do film; we had only one day of court prep for this game. It was hard to hear in here, so they kind of had to talk to each other and solve problems."
Redshirt sophomore guard Kiara Lewis paced the Orange with 16 points, helping Syracuse amass 39 bench points, while junior guard Tiana Mangakahia logged 12 to go along with eight assists.
The loss for Syracuse was its first at home since an 84-77 setback versus fourth-ranked Louisville on Feb. 4, 2018.
Miami, which shot 9-of-15 (60.0 percent) from deep, held Syracuse to 5-of-32 (15.6 percent) shooting from beyond the arc, as the Orange made just two of their first 21 attempts. In addition, the Hurricanes went 25-of-51 (49.0 percent) overall and Syracuse finished 28-of-77 (36.4 percent).
The Hurricanes finished the game 25-of-29 (86.2 percent) on free throws, setting a season high in makes, logging its second-most attempts and third-best percentage.
Miami now heads back to Coral Gables, Fla., where it takes on Boston College at the Watsco Center Sunday at 1 p.m.