6:00 PM ET, November 23, 2011
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Dog mushing and a snowball fight.Those are the experiences the South Florida players will remember on their trip to the Great Alaska Shootout."This is what being an NCAA student-athlete is all about," South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said about the trip to Alaska, where they lost to No. 9 Miami 92-72 in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout. "It's about going to play a couple of games and experiencing a beautiful part of the country."And in November in Alaska, that means a lot of snow and cold, cold temperatures."We had a pretty big snowball fight. Some of the kids didn't know how to make a snowball, they picked up snow and threw it and it didn't go anywhere," Fernandez said laughing."Jasmine Wynne and Caitlin Rowe were the unanimous winners of the fight," South Florida's sports information director Charlie Terenzio blogged on the university's website, where he also noted each member of the team got the opportunity to ride in a sled driven by a dog. That, he wrote, was the coldest experience of the trip.Miami and South Florida women's teams had to fly nearly 5,000 miles to meet on the basketball court."It's kind of ironic," said Miami coach Katie Meier, who didn't know the other teams in the tournament when the school signed the contract."I don't think either AD is happy," she joked.Meier said there's never any guarantees in the Great Alaska Shootout, and noted the host team, Division II Alaska Anchorage, gave the Hurricanes a tough game in the opening round.But Meier's Hurricanes (4-1) used two strong second-half performances to win both of their games in the Shootout.In the final against South Florida (4-3), Miami led 44-32 at the break, but blew the game wide open to start the second half.The Hurricanes went on a 24-7 run during the first 9 minutes to put away the Bulls."The biggest growth has been our team's performance in the second half," Meier said.Meier attributes it to the Hurricanes' strong bench."We're not exhausted at halftime," she said.Riquna Williams scored 17 points to lead Miami, and was voted the player of the game.Shenise Johnson added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Hurricanes (4-1). She was selected the tournament MVP.Sylvia Bullock, a Miami forward playing in her hometown of Anchorage, scored 10 points."We definitely came out here for reasons, one of those was to bring Sylvia home," Meier said. "We have five opportunities to win championships this year, there's four to go."Jasmine Wynne led South Florida (4-3) with 21 points. Kaneisha Saunders added 11 points for the Bulls, and Akila McDonald and Andrell Smith had 10 apiece.South Florida was down 75-46 with 8:30 left, but a scrappy performance by the Bulls made the final score a little more respectable, Fernandez said."If a game is out of reach, you need to win a game within a game, and I think we did that," Fernandez said. "I was disappointed we gave up as many points as we did. We didn't play defense particularly well here in Alaska."Central Michigan beat Alaska Anchorage 90-84 in overtime in the third-place game.
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