If it wasn’t for Women’s Basketball at the University of Miami in 2018-’19, last season would have been a forgettable year on the hardwood for the Hurricanes. The trials and tribulations for the men’s side are well documented. However, the women of the hardwood picked up The U and represented the institution proudly this past season — which, if you’re paying attention, is no anomaly.
Entering her 14th season as the head coach of UM’s Women’s Basketball, Katie Meier has a career record of 346-217, amassing a 277 wins and 172 losses at UM. Since 2009, Miami has secured a winning record each season, morphing into an annual contender in a competitive ACC conference. The Hurricanes’ in-conference competition — perennial powerhouses such as Louisville, Syracuse and Notre Dame — sharpened Miami’s edges in time for the NCAA Tournament.
The Hurricanes finished last season with a 25-9 overall record, going 12-4 in conference play. UM scored some big wins on their way to the program’s eighth NCAA tournament appearance in the past 10 years. Two days after a bitterly-fought-for victory at the Watsco Center over North Carolina, Miami travelled northeast to square off with ACC championship contenders, Syracuse. Miami emerged from the Carrier Dome with a program-defining 84-71 victory Led by senior C Emese Hof’s 21 points and F Beatrice Mompremier’s 12 points and 10 rebounds. Combined with contributions from fellow starters junior Laura Cornelius’ 13 points and Mykea Gray’s 17, the win illuminated the ACC title aspirations of a hungry team.
However, one win against a top 15 team was not enough for this Miami squad. A month later, the Canes would host the reigning national champions, Notre Dame. The No. 4 team in the country, the Fighting Irish presented another difficult test for the Hurricanes in the quest for the ACC regular-season crown. Once again, Miami was more than ready to defend home court. Miami defeated Notre Dame by a score of 72-65 in a result many believed was an upset. UM proved to be too much for the Irish to handle, with forwards Hof (21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Mompremier (18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals) battering the Irish. Sophomore guard Taylor Mason added 13 points off the bench to help propel the Canes to the win. The victory served as yet another statement win for the Hurricanes, further establishing the program as a legitimate threat to win the ACC crown.
If wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame didn’t silence the doubters, then defeating No. 2 Louisville on their home court must have finished the job. In a contest where the Hurricanes were down by 14 points at one point, UM closed the lead to within eight at halftime. Illustrating their resilience, the Canes clawed their way back in the second half to score 50 points, propelled by 32 points in the fourth quarter alone. For the third time, the Hurricanes pulled out a triumph that could be considered the ‘biggest’ win in program history, winning 79-73. Taking the win in stride, Coach Meier remarked after the game, “I’m sure when I’m retired and sitting on the beach somewhere, I’ll think about this as the greatest win, but these wins can be canceled out really quick if you don’t focus on the next one.”
Meier can thank her starting unit that had three players finish with double-digit scoring — Gray, Cornelius and Hof — along with productive minutes from Khalia Prather, Kelsey Marshall and Endia Banks for the win.
After program-defining wins like the one over Notre Dame, you have to consider the idea that this could finally be Miami’s year.
After closing out the regular season against Florida State and NC State, Miami set its sights on making a run in the ACC tournament. Looking to gain some momentum before March Madness, the Canes opened the ACC Tournament against Syracuse. This time around, it was the Orange who got the better of the Canes, ousting Miami 92-85 in the opening round. Despite the tough loss, Miami still had plans to make a run in the NCAA tourney. The opportunity to host the first two games of the tournament at the Watsco Center was a huge boon for Miami.
Squad ready. pic.twitter.com/cn1VNA73id— Canes Women's BBall (@CanesWBB) March 21, 2019
That scenario became a reality after selection day, as the Hurricanes were slated to play Florida Gulf Coast. After dispatching FGCU by the score of 69-62, the Hurricanes were pitted against Arizona State in the second round. Laura Cornelius and Mykea Gray lead the Hurricanes with 15 and 13 points respectively, while Beatrice Mompremier picked up a career-high 22 rebounds. Despite those contributions, it was not enough. UM came up just short, losing 57-55 to ASU. The loss was the fifth time since 2010 that Miami was eliminated in the second round of the tournament.
Despite the crushing loss, 2018-’19 should go down as one of the most memorable seasons for the Hurricanes. As Alex Schwartz of hurricanessports.com points out, Miami’s 25 wins last season tied them for fourth all-time in program history. Both of the team’s forwards Emese Hof and Beatrice Mompremier were named to the All-ACC First Team. Hof was also named to ACC-All Defensive Team and the ACC-All Academic Team.
Key Stats from the season
- Averaged 73.6 points-per-game (5th in the ACC)
- Allowed an average of 63.5 PPG (6th in the ACC)
- 0.35% of 3-pointers made per game (3rd in the ACC)
- 0.68% success rate at the free-throw line (11th in ACC)
- Finished seventh in the conference in offensive rebounds with 453 total rebounds (13.3 rpg)
- Finished third in the conference in defensive rebounds 987 total rebounds (29 rpg)
- -2.38 Turnover rate (13th in the conference)
- Assist/Turnover ratio was 6th in the conference
- Miami peaked at No. 14 in both the Coaches’ Poll and AP Top 25
What’s in Store for the 2019-’20 Season?
ICYMI earlier, Miami joined Notre Dame as the lone schools with two First Team All-ACC honorees! pic.twitter.com/0Iq03UALOd— Canes Women's BBall (@CanesWBB) March 6, 2019
As great as last season was, the future is always looming in the distance. UM Women’s Basketball took a tremendous stride forward last year. Looking towards the 2019-2020 season, the program will have to continue that momentum with some key departures. Both Khalia Prather (graduation) and Emese Hof (signed to play with Purfumeris Avenida of the Euroleague) have exhausted their eligibility. Redshirt junior Laura Cornelius announced her decision to forgo a fifth year, opting to turn pro after last season (signed with Club Deportivo Zamarat). Those loses will sting, but Miami received some good news when Beatrice Mompremier opted to stay in college another year as opposed to declaring for the WNBA Draft. According to the Miami High standout, “I’m excited to return to Miami for another season and not only work on my skills, but compete alongside my teammates and continue to pursue our goals.”
The Hurricanes will also welcome an intriguing group of recruits from the 2019 cycle.
Yasmeen Chang ★★★★ (Prospect Nation)
Brianna Jackson ★★★★ (No. 92 on ESPNW Top 100 for the class of 2019)
Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba (from Årsta, Sweden) regarded as a top 10 international player
Sydnee Roby ★★★★ (No. 60 on ESPNW Top 100 for the class of 2019)
Kenza Salgues 5’9” Guard (from France)
According to prospectsnation.com, the Hurricanes’ 2019 class is ranked 22nd in the cycle.
When this incoming class does arrive on campus it’s assured that Coach Meier will be there to greet them. The University of Miami and the head coach agreed on a two-year extension that will take Meier’s contract through the 2024-2025 season.
"Miami is my home."— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) June 14, 2019
Congrats to one of the best leaders we know, @CoachKatieMeier, on signing a contract extension through 2024-25. pic.twitter.com/MyNE9Xzr7h
Attempting to reach and break through the ceiling of last season will be a near impossible feat. Yet Coach Meier’s group has no choice but to trudge forward, setting new goals for the 2019-’20 season as they attempt to make it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1991.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!