Hurricanes overcome 18-point deficit, win overtime thriller over Clemson

Players on the Miami women's basketball team celebrate after defeating Clemson on Thursday, Feb. 8 at the Watsco Center Photo credit: Miami Athletics

It’s hard to imagine anyone other than 18-year Miami Hurricanes’ head coach Katie Meier could’ve seen it coming when she did.

“We found it towards the end of the first half,” Meier said, referring to the ‘Canes offense which overcame a 17-point halftime deficit for a 75-72 overtime win over the Clemson Tigers (11-13, 4-8 ACC) on Thursday.

It was the third-largest halftime comeback in program history.

Miami (15-7, 5-6 ACC) trailed by as much as 18 and looked flustered at times. Many would have doubts before their belief, naturally. But in Meier’s case, believing was never in question.

“At the end of the first half our offense was not bad, we just did not hit good, ‘Miami,’ shots,” elaborated Meier.

However, Miami wasn’t just dealing with cold shooting. In the second quarter, transfer guard Lemyah Hylton went down with an apparent knee injury. The ‘Canes were going to need another gear.

As the second half developed, Miami shrugged off a cold 20 minutes and improved its shooting in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage in the final frames. In the third quarter alone, UM went 5-of-9 from three, a stark contrast to their 0-for-11 start.

Behind the charge was Miami’s offensive rebounding, catalyzed by sophomore forward Lazaria “Zee” Spearman. Aside from finishing with the highest plus-minus of plus-13, Spearman grabbed seven rebounds, four of which were offensive, to go along with 14 points.

“Zee was very calm, she wasn’t as rough,” Meier said.

It was this even-keeled-ness, which reverberated throughout the ‘Canes demeanor and ultimately won them the contest. There may have been no overtime, however, without the poise of junior guard Ja’Leah Williams.

With a minute to go, Williams made the tying free throw, knotting the game at 61. With under 10 seconds to play, the junior stole the ball off a bad pass from the Tigers’ Harris. Williams finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

The x-factor, however, was forward Latasha Lattimore. The junior collected four offensive rebounds of her own. When she shared the court with Spearman, UM’s size proved formidable. Spearman spoke about the on-court dynamic between her and Lattimore.

“We got the same mindset, we both want to go out there and win or compete every time we get on the court,” the sophomore said. “I feel like just combining that really turned us into a different beast tonight.”’

It was Meier, of course, who elected to play them on the floor together for the majority of the second half. She did so for good reason.

“I thought Zee and [Latasha] really started to talk and compete,” Meier said. “When those two are talking, our defense is a lot better.”

Clemson was led by its graduate tandem of Amari Robinson and Dayshanette Harris, who had 24 and 22 points respectively, to lead all scorers. Shayeann Day-Wilson scored 17 for the ‘Canes.

UM heads to Georgia Tech, where it will take on the Yellow Jackets on Sunday. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.