An energetic crowd turned out at the Watsco Center on Thursday morning for the tip-off of Miami women’s basketball 2023-24 campaign. The ‘Canes (1-0) took on an in-state opponent in Jacksonville University (1-1), and won commandingly, 81-53
Miami handled business, routing the Dolphins in a game that featured quality performances across the roster. Jacksonville kept up in the first quarter and trailed by just four points after one frame. However, its resilience started to falter late in the second, as Miami went up double digits, leading at the half, 38-25.
This, in part, was due to the terrific play of sophomore Lazaria “Zee” Spearman. The forward got hot with 13 points off the bench, keeping momentum and further creating second-chance opportunities with four offensive rebounds.
“We brought her off the bench and she needed it, she needed to just get a little check, wake up, and play tough,” head coach Katie Meier said.
The ‘Canes made sure to hound on the defensive side, forcing 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes, proceeding to create 25 total on the night.
“That’s who we are. That’s what Miami is about – pressing, turnovers and everybody on the team is buying into that,” guard Jasmyne Roberts said.
Roberts was a key piece in Miami’s dominance, posting 14 points, a team-high seven rebounds.
By the fourth, Miami had built a 30-point lead. After a late triple, Roberts made it known, pointing at her forearm, a subtle ice-in-her-veins celebration, as the score grew to 73-43 in favor of the ‘Canes.
Jacksonville’s Edyn Battle led all scorers with 16 points.
One storyline circulating this match was the ‘Canes retooled cast. Transfers Ally Stedman, Lemyah Hylton, Jaida Patrick and Shayeann Day-Wilson all made their first appearances on the hardwood. These new faces come at a significant point in Miami basketball.
After helping the ‘Canes to an Elite Eight appearance, Destiny Harden and Lola Pendade, along with Haley and Hanna Cavinder departed; however, not without creating a winning identity this squad looks to preserve.
Stedman, Hylton, Patrick and Day-Wilson all found the bottom of the net in their debuts. Late in the fourth, Meier had the quartet share the court together. Hylton led all transfers with 14 points and Day-Wilson totaled an impressive 9 assists. Moments like these are quintessential for developing chemistry, an element more important with each game.
“It was completely earned by them,” Meier said. “I wanted them to have a little bit of fun, I wanted them to celebrate their choice, share their decision, and celebrate the fact that they’re here together.”
Miami squares off again on Sunday at 2 p.m. as it hosts Fordham in Coral Gables where its Elite Eight banner will be unveiled.