The University of Miami played according to script Saturday.
The third-seeded Hurricanes disrupted No. 14 Idaho State University early and often, pasting the Bengals 70-41 in an NCAA women’s basketball tournament game before 5,680 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
One wouldn’t have known Miami was missing one of its best players.
Miami (26-5) moves on to face Gonzaga (27-5) at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Eleventh-seeded Gonzaga dispatched No. 6 Rutgers 86-73 in the opener.
The Hurricanes’ size and athleticism altered many ISU shots. By the end of the first half, the Bengals had reached a season low in points and perhaps frustration. A 9-1 surge the final 5 minutes, 27 seconds gave Miami a 33-16 lead going into intermission.
ISU made just 6 of 29 shots in the first 20 minutes. The Bengals also struggled in the second half and finished 13 of 52 (25 percent).
The Canes did just about everything they wanted.
“With them missing one of their best players, they could have very easily had a bad game or had a bad attitude and not performed very well, but my hat’s off to them,” ISU coach Seton Sobolewski said. “They did a great job.”
Senior guard Riquna Williams, a John Wooden Award finalist, didn’t make the trip to Spokane because of what the school deemed conduct detrimental to the team.
The Hurricanes’ combined conduct Saturday was detrimental to the Bengals, who fell behind quickly at 12-3 and didn’t have any prayer thereafter.
Miami’s other John Wooden Award finalist, senior guard Shenise Johnson, played up to the hype, finishing with a relatively quiet 20 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and four steals in 28 minutes.
The shorter Bengals’ most difficulty came in defending 6-foot-6 junior Shawnice Wilson. The stout Wilson, who takes up much real estate in the key, led a dominating effort on the boards. She had a game-high 14 rebounds as the Canes finished with a 45-28 advantage.
Miami has no problem running up and down the court with teams. Where the Canes had to extend themselves against ISU was sideline to sideline.
“They move the ball so well,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “We exhausted ourselves, but it worked out well for us because the tempo and our defense was the story of the game. I told you (Friday) that we would play out tails off. I knew we would. Nobody held back. We have a saying that you have to support the pressure. If I’m going to go out on a limb and exhaust myself on ball pressure, then the other four behind me better support that effort.”
“We counted in the locker room that we missed six layups,” Sobolewski said. “Not that they were all uncontested, but we missed some easy shots and we missed some perimeter shots that we normally would have hit. I don’t know what to attribute that to. Maybe it’s jitters being at the national tournament. Maybe it was a bad night shooting. I don’t know.”
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