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Stout defensive effort leads Hurricanes’ second-round win
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Thursday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament second-round game appeared headed for a photo finish, but Miami closed with a defensive stand that was nearly picture perfect.
The eighth-seeded Hurricanes held ninth-seeded Virginia scoreless for a stretch of six minutes in the second half – and to 12 total points in the final 13 minutes – to post a 62-52 win at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Hurricanes (19-11) snapped a four-game losing streak and moved on to face top-seeded Notre Dame (28-2) in Friday’s 2 p.m. quarterfinal game.
The Cavaliers (17-13) grabbed a 40-39 lead when Mikayla Venson connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 13:28 remaining in the game. But Virginia came up empty on its next nine possessions. By the time Aliyah Huland El’s jumper at 7:28 broke the drought, Miami led 49-42, and the Cavaliers wouldn’t get closer.
All-ACC sophomore Adrienne Motley led the Hurricanes with 15 points for her 27th time scoring in double figures in 30 games this season. Necole Sterling added 13, including a 3-pointer from the left corner with 13:08 remaining that put Miami in front for good at 42-40.
Breyana Mason’s 13 points led Virginia’s scoring. Lauren Moses had 11 points and eight rebounds, while Venson also finished with 11 points for the Cavaliers.
Miami was up 34-30 at the break, the largest lead by either team in a first half that featured six ties and 11 lead changes. The Hurricanes’ Sterling led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 10 points on a 4-of-6 shooting effort that included a pair of 3-pointers.
The game remained air tight for the first seven minutes of the second half, until Virginia’s scoring woes allowed Miami to establish a bit of breathing room.
The Hurricanes head into Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with Notre Dame with the distinction of being the only ACC team to defeat the Fighting Irish since they joined the conference prior to last season. Miami posted a 78-63 win when Notre Dame visited Coral Gables nearly two months ago, as Motley scored a career-high 32 points and Jassany Williams blocked a school-record nine shots.