Hurricanes celebrate seniors, drop season finale in overtime

Junior guard Shayeann Day-Wilson attempts a jump shot during Miami's loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday, March 3, at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

In an afternoon featuring Miami guard Shayeann Day-Wilson’s career-high and two Hurricanes celebrating Senior Day, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (GT) pulled away in overtime against the ‘Canes, winning 71-66.

Miami (19-10, 8-10 ACC) finished off its regular season on Sunday in nail-biting fashion, a tug-of-war battle featuring 18 lead changes, eight tie scores and neither team leading by more than five.

However, despite the teams going punch-for-punch, no one could contain Day-Wilson. The junior dropped 21 first-half points on an electric 8-of-10 shooting from the field as UM led by one at the half, 36-35.

Six points later in the second half and the Toronto native had eclipsed her previous point record of 26 at Duke, now standing at 27.

“I felt good, I haven’t felt good in a long time so I was just staying aggressive and I knew I had to step up big today,” Day-Wilson said.

She was one of just two ‘Canes to get into double-figure scoring on the day. The other was forward Lazaria Spearman, who registered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

“[Spearman] was unbelievable,” head coach Katie Meier said. “Focused, rebounded, caught the ball, [she] didn’t have a single turnover.

She got into double digits on one of her more impressive plays, knocking down a shot-clock buzzer-beating fadeaway jumper midway through the third, which grabbed Miami the lead at 44-43.

The lead stayed within one possession the entire third frame, and Miami took a one-point lead into the fourth.

Guard Ja’Leah Williams got the scoring started in the fourth with a steal and score for the ‘Canes off a fast-break layup, yet any potential momentum-shifting plays for Miami were stifled by the Yellow Jackets (16-14, 7-11 ACC).

Miami retained a single-possession lead up until just under two minutes left when Georgia Tech guard Tonie Morgan knotted the game at 60 with a free throw. Seconds later, Day-Wilson clinched her career-high with a layup, adding another lead change to the total.

Free throws would tie the game up once again for GT at 62 before the brawl headed to extra time. The Yellow Jackets had a chance to walk it off, but guard Ines Noguero missed the potential game-winning jumper.

Throughout overtime, foul shooting continued to tell the story of this physical game. Tech converted all six of his free throws, as Miami committed two untimely fouls before fouling intentionally.

Tech was ultra-efficient from the stripe, shooting an 89.5% clip, a stark contrast to the Hurricanes’ 38.5%. When the dust settled, free throws were the glaring difference in the opponent’s performances.

“We did not get any shots to fall in the fourth quarter or overtime,” Meier said. “We killed ourselves at the free throw line.”

Even with the loss, the ‘Canes still have a lot of potential basketball to play in March.

“It’s not over and we play Thursday and we’re just going to rest up and get ready for that,” Day-Wilson said.

In the meantime, Miami can celebrate what it has, including the two seniors spotlighted today, Jaida Patrick and Sophia Zulich.

Patrick, a transfer graduate student, made an immediate impact on and off the court for ‘Canes this season.

“Jaida came in the first month and was voted captain, which I’ve never seen in my life,” Meier said.

Zulich is also a graduate transfer. She walked on to the team after dealing with injuries much of her collegiate career.

“The sacrifices she made to even try to participate on this team,” Meier said. “She’s just an inspiration to the team.”

Miami enters its most important stretch of the ACC gauntlet, heading to Greensborough, N.C., where it’ll take on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday in the ACC Tournament. Tip-off is at 1:30 p.m.