1:00 PM ET, November 11, 2011
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami was leading by 20 points, and coach Katie Meier was steaming mad at halftime anyway."You are playing," she said, "as bad as my haircut."OK, so Meier's locks were a bit out of place Friday. Maybe it was worth a bad hair day to see national player of the year candidate Shenise Johnson come within an assist of a triple-double, have nine different players score and the seventh-ranked Hurricanes open their season with an 83-37 win over Texas-Pan American.Johnson finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, Riquna Williams scored 16 points and the Hurricanes (1-0) forced 35 turnovers on the way to winning their 25th straight game at home, a program record."Not quite sure exactly why we were so awkward to start the game," said Meier, the AP coach of the year last season. "I don't know a better word. It just felt very awkward. There was no flow, there was no rhythm, there was no energy and that was really disappointing. ... I'm sure it had to do a lot with Texas-Pan Am."The Broncs certainly weren't intimidated. Miami's lead was only 24-13 with less than four minutes left in the first half before the Hurricanes hit five straight shots, the last two by Stefanie Yderstrom.The Hurricanes were shooting 23 percent late in the half, but shot 54 percent the rest of the way."We found out what you have to do and how hard you have to play against a team like this," Broncs coach Denny Downing said. "I think we learned from their passion, because obviously they're very passionate about what they're doing."LaQuita Garner scored 14 for the Broncs (0-1). Texas-Pan American played some of the Big 12's toughest teams last season -- Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State -- and lost them all by an average of 50.8 points.This one didn't seem as though it would turn into one of those blowouts, not the way the Broncs hung around for much of the first half. Yderstrom and Morgan Stroman scored 12 each for the Hurricanes, who visit No. 3 Tennessee on Tuesday."We had it in mind," Yderstrom acknowledged afterward, when asked about the looming trip to Knoxville. "You can't overlook any competition. I think they gave us a good game, especially in the first half. We needed it."Johnson was nearly perfect. She shot 6 for 9 from the field, made all eight of her foul shots and controlled pace for the Hurricanes."The opponent is our opponent," Johnson said. "But if Miami does what Miami is supposed to do, we'll win. I don't think we were looking ahead. I think we were just worried about Miami."And while it was the beginning of a season with Final Four hopes, Miami's start was more than a little rusty.Miami was 6 for 26 from the field in the first 16 minutes, an uncharacteristic dip for a team that shot 43 percent last season. Here's a great example of how cold the Hurricanes were in the opener: There was one possession where four players all missed shots and Miami came away empty, a series that had Meier pivoting around and taking a somewhat purposeful walk a few steps down the sideline.Eventually, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season co-champion got going, making its final five shots of the opening half. Yderstrom hit a 3-pointer with 1:22 left to push the lead to 33-13, and she converted a nifty reverse layup about a minute later to keep the margin at 20 points going into halftime.So while Miami couldn't have liked the offensive numbers in the first 20 minutes, the defense made up for at least some of the trouble at the other end. In the first half, Texas-Pan American had 21 shot attempts -- and 20 turnovers, unable to handle Miami's pressure.In the second half, the offensive surge just kept going. The Hurricanes made seven of their first 13 shots, capped by a three-point play by Pepper Wilson with 13:14 left that gave Miami a 54-28 lead."Our bench did a fantastic job of changing our rhythm," Meier said. "And that's fun."
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