Miami fends off late North Carolina surge

Redshirt junior forward Beatrice Mompremier goes up for a layup against North Carolina on Jan. 20 at the Watsco Center. Mompremier finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for her ACC-leading 14th double-double. Photo by Josh Halper

The Hurricanes took the lead right from the opening tipoff and did not give it back.

Sophomore Mykea Gray and redshirt junior Beatrice Mompremier individually outscored North Carolina’s eight points in the first quarter with 12 and 10 points, respectively, sparking a 21-0 run for the Hurricanes and a 27-8 lead after 10 minutes. 

The Tar Heels cut a 22-point deficit to just eight thanks to a 16-2 run in the closing minutes of the contest, but Miami held off the late North Carolina rally to win 76-68 Sunday afternoon at the Watsco Center.

“Three quarters doesn’t usually get you the win,” Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said. “I did say going into the fourth, there’s a couple teams in the league that can score 30 in the fourth, Carolina is one of them and we were lucky it was the final 10 minutes and we could recover.”

Mompremier capped off another stellar performance and secured her Atlantic Coast Conference leading 14th double-double, registering 18 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 forward has nine double-doubles in her last 10 appearances. 

“I just go out and do my best to get rebounds,” Mompremier said. “If the shot goes up in the air, I just try my best to go up.”

The Miami native dominated in the first half with Janelle Bailey, UNC’s leading scorer and rebounder, sidelined because of disciplinary reasons from the Tar Heels’ previous game against Wake Forest.

“I have a ton of respect for Coach [Sylvia] Hatchell and how she runs her program,” Meier said. “We coach and we teach lessons. I know she won’t have any regrets over that because her team’s better for it. Janelle Bailey’s a heck of a player. They needed size against us, didn’t have it in the first half.”

Bailey provided a spark for North Carolina (10-9, 1-4 ACC) with nine points and five rebounds after coming off the bench to start the second half. Redshirt junior Stephanie Watts led the charge for the Heels with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Paris Kea chipped in 10 points.

Led by Mompremier, Miami (16-4, 4-1 ACC) finished with three players in double figures. Gray notched 17 points to go along with six assists and senior Emese Hof added 11 points and six boards. Hof was honored before the game after joining the 1,000-point club during the Hurricanes’ last game against Duke.

Fellow Dutch standout Laura Cornelius grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and tallied nine points, just missing out on her first career double-double.

“We did a great job boxing them out,” Cornelius said. “We’ve had games where we’ve been getting outhustled and I think we were really going after it in the first half.”

Miami is now 2-0 against teams from North Carolina this season. If the Canes win their final regular season game against North Carolina State in March, it’ll be their second straight year with a sweep of ACC teams from North Carolina.

Next, Miami will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We’re going to focus on improvement on that fourth quarter.” Meier said. “We’re going to work on confidence. We need energy moving forward on that unbelievably beautiful first quarter.”