After two wire-to-wire wins and even a slight scare against the Florida Atlantic Owls at the Watsco Center, the Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball program has gone 3-0 to begin their 2020-2021 season.
With ACC games approaching later this week, coach Meier and her team have utilized their non-conference, home matchups to prepare for some of the nation’s best programs.
One of those matchups included hosting FAU from Boca Raton, Florida, on Thursday night, with the green and orange prevailing, 73-61, after briefly relinquishing the lead in the third quarter.
Senior guard Kelsey Marshall spearheaded the team’s scoring efforts with 21 points and six rebounds on the evening, as each of the team’s five 3-point field goals belonged to the Davie, Florida, native.
“We’re going to have to free her up,” Meier said on Marshall’s scoring abilities being relied upon this season. “We’ve got to play better team ball on the offensive end. We were 1:2 in the assists-to-turnover [ratio] and that’s not a high-level at all. This is the team that does kind of take the passes away and you do have to get them off the bounce. So, for Kelsey to get 12 threes up we were doing something right because they switch everything.”
With 11 assists on the afternoon, the Hurricanes were able to get everyone involved in spite of the score remaining close while trading baskets in the game’s middle quarters.
“We just played really good team ball,” Marshall said after the win, in which Miami outscored their visitors 14-9 in the fourth period. “I don’t really think for myself; I really think what’s good for the team. So, I just try my best to execute plays that coach [Meier] calls, and my team just did a really good job of finding me on the 3-point line.”
Defensively, the Canes held the Owls to a field goal percentage of 36.1 percent and just nine points in the final 10 minutes, after allowing FAU to convert on eight of 16 field goal attempts in the opening period to tie up the game at 20 points apiece.
“They’re a great 3-point shooting team,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said on FAU’s jump shooting capabilities. “They had 93 points in their first game, and we held them to 32 under, what they scored the last time they were out. So, I’ve got to be happy with our defense.”
Graduate transfer guard Iggy Allen, a former student-athlete of Meier’s last season, finished the contest with 23 points and three steals while shooting five of nine from downtown in her first return to Coral Gables, Florida.
“We’re really two competitive people,” Marshall said on her relationship with Allen. “Last year we used to always go at each other in practice, always trying to make each other better. So, it was just a good game of us competing and trying to get a win for our team.”
After registering 23 turnovers, however, Meier and the team knew they would have to shift their attention towards taking better care of the ball, having also totaled 24 the game prior.
“It’s going to be a massive concern,” Meier said. “We spent three years kind of riding Mykea Gray with ball controlling and not having to run multiple passing sets. We do a lot more off the bounce and ball-screen reads. So, people are now having to handle the ball that haven’t had to. Some of the turnovers, and probably half of them, were off of us trying to establish ourselves inside. It wasn’t like the person dribbling just coughed up the ball, [but] it was a lot of team turnovers. We were disjointed overall tonight.”
The Hurricanes outrebounded the Owls 49-32, however, an area the team seeks to improve upon in ACC play this winter having finished last in the conference when it came to defensive rebounds (24.6 per game) last season.
“It took a lot of grit to pull out this win,” Meier said. “I was absolutely prepared for a close basketball game.”
Despite not playing Stetson, their third scheduled ASUN opponent, on Sunday due to a detected COVID-19 case in the Hatters’ locker room, Miami will look towards the start of conference competition on Thursday against No. 23 Syracuse at home. The matchup will begin at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised on the ACC Network.