No. 9 Miami struggles offensively, holds off Division II Alaska-Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Shenise Johnson scored 18 points and No. 9 Miami beat Alaska-Anchorage 72-55 on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Carrs-Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

The Hurricanes (3-1) shot just 27 percent in the first half against the Division II Seawolves (4-1) and trailed much of the half. Alaska-Anchorage's biggest lead of the half was four, but Johnson's 3-pointer just before the first-half buzzer gave Miami a 28-26 lead.

Miami coach Katie Meier said she shared "a few choice words" with her team at halftime, challenging each of them to do what they do best. She also changed up the defense.

"We brought out the full-court pressure," Meier said. "I think that changed the game."

After forcing 10 turnovers in the first half, the Hurricanes' defense forced the Seawolves into 18 more in the second half, leading to easy transition points.

The Hurricanes held Alaska-Anchorage to just three field goals over the first 7 minutes of the second half, racing to a 45-35 lead behind Morgan Stroman's five points and Maria Brown's three-point play.

The Seawolves answered with a 3-pointer by Tijera Mathews and a basket by Kaylie Robison to close to 45-40 with 10:49 remaining, but could get no closer.

Johnson's 3-pointer led a 10-0 run to put Miami up 57-41 with just under 8 minutes left.

Alaska-Anchorage coach Tim Moser said his team couldn't sustain a plan to slow the pace and make it a half-court game.

"Our game plan was to put everyone in the gym to sleep, except us," he said. It worked in the first half, he said, until the bigger, faster Hurricanes hit them with the stifling full-court pressure, something they're not likely to see the rest of their schedule.

"Our kids got a little nervous because they don't see it."

Meier credited Alaska-Anchorage's physical play for keeping the game close early. The Seawolves outrebounded Miami 39-33, and Miami adjusted on offense by moving its shooters outside, Meier said. Miami shot 40 percent from the field in the second half.

Johnson was 3 for 6 from 3-point range but Miami shot just 4 for 22 from beyond the arc.

Stroman and Riquna Williams each scored 14 points for Miami.

Robison, Mathews, Hanna Johansson, and Hallie Holmstead had 10 points apiece for Alaska-Anchorage.