Down two starters, Canes dominate Virginia Tech

Junior Shanel Williams evades a player as she dribbles the ball down court. Zach Beeker//The Miami Hurricane

The 11th-ranked women’s basketball team, which returned home Monday after two conference road wins that came down to the final possession, won in more conventional fashion, crushing Virginia Tech 79-48.

Coach Katie Meier’s defense handled the Hokies, the lowest-scoring team in the ACC, holding them to a dismal 27 percent from the floor while forcing 22 turnovers.

“I thought it was just one of our best team games of the year,” Meier said.

The Canes (17-3, 6-1 ACC) demoralized the Hokies (6-14, 2-5 ACC) from the opening tip, starting the game on a 15-1 run ignited by preseason All-American Shenise Johnson.

Johnson finished the night with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals in another one of her trademark all-around games.

Stefanie Yderstrom shot 4-of-6 on 3-pointers and 7-of-10 overall to lead Miami in scoring and establish a new career high of 22 points.

“I’m just happy we won and how we won – as a team,” Yderstrom said. “I feel like I had some open shots and I made them today.”

Meier was able to empty out her bench in the blowout victory. All 12 active Canes saw time on the floor Monday, including freshman forward Tyler Hobgood, who scored her first two career ACC points.

Riquna Williams, the team’s second-leading scorer, only saw 10 minutes of action and went 0-for-2 on the field, scoring four points on free throws.

Meier cited “family issues” as the reason Williams didn’t start Monday. She had been spending time away from the team. Meier was reluctant to delve into matters too much regarding Williams during the post-game press conference.

Morgan Stroman, third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding, will be out for the rest of the season after surgery on her Achilles Tuesday. She injured it in last Thursday’s win at Virginia.

“It was strange and we definitely do miss [Stroman], but she’s not gone,” Johnson said. “She’s still in our ears, still in spirit. So she’s still around, she brings energy for us.”

On the impact the loss of Stroman will have on the Miami front line, Meier said: “We lose a lot of our length, but we’re going with a little bit more of a power set sometimes. When we go in you’re going to feel it.”

Stroman’s absence, along with Williams’, against Virginia Tech snapped Miami’s streak of 52 consecutive games with the same starting five of Johnson, Williams, Stroman, Yderstrom and Sylvia Bullock.

Krystal Saunders and Shawnice Wilson earned their first starts in place of Stroman and Williams.

Meier was pleased with the way the lineup was able to click despite being down two of its five regular starters.

Virginia Tech, after winning its first two in ACC play, has now dropped five in a row.

The Hurricanes, now winners of 35 straight home games, return to the BankUnited Center Thursday night to face Wake Forest. The game tips off at 7 p.m.