IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Sophomore Adrienne Motley is the biggest reason Miami backed into the NCAA Tournament.
She’s also the reason the Hurricanes are still around.
Motley scored 30 points to carry 11th-seeded Miami past No. 6 Washington 86-80 on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Iowa City.
Jessica Thomas had 19 points and Michelle Woods added 17 for the Hurricanes (20-12), who pulled off the upset in part by shooting 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
Motley – who had 32 points in Miami’s biggest win, a 78-63 win over Notre Dame that likely sealed a tournament bid – hit a jumper in the lane to give Miami a 73-71 lead. Four free throws put the Hurricanes up six with a minute left.
”Her pull-up, when she goes to shoot it, the person on the bench keeping score is already writing two,” Miami coach Katie Meier said about Motley. `She’s just so consistent.”
Kelsey Plum and Talia Walton each had 17 points to lead Washington (23-10).
The Huskies’ first NCAA Tournament trip in eight years proved to be briefer than expected, mostly because Plum and fellow star guard Jazmine Davis were just 10 of 30 from the floor.
”I think we were a little nervous and I think it was to be expected,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. ”I think if we could have shaken the jitters off a littler earlier, it would have been different.”
Miami and Washington figured to be one of the more intriguing matchups of the first round – even though the Hurricanes came in on a 1-5 skid – since each team plays an up tempo style directed by talented backcourts.
The Hurricanes and Huskies got up and down the floor all afternoon.
Miami certainly was comfortable with that pace.
The Hurricanes caught fire late in the half, draining five of their first eight 3s for a 41-33 lead. The Huskies looked lost on offense at times, missing 12 of their last 13 shots before halftime.
Motley then opened the second half with a 3. But Plum finally snapped out an extended slump with a 3 and a wide-open layup that pulled the Huskies within 46-42.
Miami had the lead back up to 10 within minutes, but Washington rallied with 11-0 run.
Davis finished her brilliant career with 16 points and eight assists for the Huskies, who shot just 10 of 29 from 3-point range.
”We really needed this game. We worked so hard for it,” Motley said. ”Everybody realizes that when we play hard and come together great things can happen.”
The teams combined for just 10 turnovers despite the frenetic pace of play…There were 14 ties and seven lead changes…Aminah Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Washington.
Erykah Davenport’s rebound off a missed free throw with 44 seconds left allowed Motley to hit two more from the line – a cushion Miami would lean on in the closing seconds.
”She gets that rebound and it changes the complexion of the game. That was a huge play for them. It turned the momentum. It took some of the fire out of us. You could see in our kid’s eyes when they came out,” Neighbors said of Davenport’s rebound.
Miami wasn’t particularly great from the line, shooting just 62.5 percent. But the Huskies put the Hurricanes on the line 40 times.
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