Hurricanes fall to Duke in annual pink game

Photo credit: Josh Halper

Decked out in neon pink from head to toe, the Hurricanes put up a united front against breast cancer. And although the Hurricanes were not victorious, Miami head coach Katie Meier provided some perspective on Sunday’s contest being about more than just basketball.

“It’s one of the things that is near and dear to my heart,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “That’s why I don’t think anyone should be pouting or hanging their heads in a basketball game. There’s people really fighting and it’s to raise awareness, to make sure that even if today we didn’t win it’s still a win.”

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Miami head coach Katie Meier showed her support for breast cancer during the team's loss to Duke Sunday afternoon. Photo credit: Josh Halper

In their annual pink game, the Canes fell 55-74 to the Duke Blue Devils at the Watsco Center.

Coming off a 24 point loss to Virginia Tech, Miami (12-11, 4-8 ACC) had a bye week to prepare and rest for Duke (13-10, 7-5 ACC). However, the pace of Duke’s Haley Gorecki and Jade Williams proved to be too much. The Canes entered the half trailing 14 points after Gorecki put up 10 points and Williams put up another 12 points.

Junior Guard Mykea Gray (5) led Miami with 27 points and five steals at the Hurricanes' game versus Duke. Photo credit: Josh Halper

The Canes, who have historically seen a lot of success in the month of February, struggled early without star forward Beatrice Mompremier. Mompremier has been out the last nine games with a foot injury and the team has posted a 4-7 record since her last appearance in early January.

“Having Beatrice back will make it a lot easier on us,” guard Mykea Gray said. “Beatrice is Beatrice; an amazing player. I can’t wait for her to come back.”

Coach Meier, who played basketball at Duke for five years and was ACC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, has previously struggled against her alma mater. The Canes entered the match-up winning their last two games against the Blue Devils, but today’s loss dropped their overall record to 4-14.

“I’ve been at Miami three times as long as I’ve been at Duke,” Meier said. “I don’t really feel much about Duke. I appreciate the university, I had a great experience there. It’s a wonderful place, but so is Miami.”

Coming back from the half, Miami appeared to have picked up some momentum. The Hurricanes went on an 11-point run and held Duke to only three points with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, entering the fourth quarter Miami was back where it started: trailing Duke by 14.

“From that point forward we just lost our focus,” Meier said. “In those moments, that’s when your players need to be communicating more and talking on the court. We just weren’t,” she said.

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Junior Guard Kelsey Marshall (20) finished with five points and was the third highest scorer during the Hurricanes' game versus Duke on Sunday Feb. 9. Photo credit: Josh Halper

The Canes struggles seems to span from their lack of productivity off the bench. Duke scored 20 points off the bench, while Miami only managed two. Duke’s Mikayla Boykin came off the bench and ended the night with 15 points.

“It was a great team game for us, five people in double figures,” said Duke head coach Joanne McCallie.

Miami duo Mykea Gray and Destiny Harden put up an impressive performance, with Gray scoring 27 points and Harden scoring 13 points. However, the two were not enough to make up for the absence of the rest of the team, who combined for a total of 15 points.

Nearing the end of the season, the Canes will hit the road as they are still hoping for a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament. The team heads north to Virginia on Thursday to wrap up its last six games of the regular season.

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Miami Guard Endia Banks, along with the entire team, wore pink sneakers in honor of breast cancer awareness during the Hurricanes' game versus Duke on Sunday, Feb. 9. Photo credit: Josh Halper