Teams: Syracuse Orange (15-3, 4-1) vs. Miami Hurricanes (16-4 4-1)
Date & Time: Wednesday, January 23 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y,
TV/Streaming: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Radio: Cuse.com/ESPN Syracuse 97.7 FM
Miami Blog: State of the U
Series Record: Miami leads, 19-9
Streak: 1, ‘Canes
First meeting: The then-Orangewomen beat Miami down in Coral Gables back in 1988, by a score of 78-62. SU would lose the next six games in the series, however.
Last meeting: Miami 72, Syracuse 67
Playing a second straight ACC game on the road last January, Syracuse was unable to make up an 11-pont halftime deficit against Miami. Tiana Mangakahia nearly had a triple-double, with 17 points, 14 assists and nine boards, while Miranda Drummond tacked on 17 points of her own. As usual, the team rose and fell with the three-ball, which was not dropping against the ‘Canes. They were just 9-of-35 from outside, and hit under 39 percent of all shots from the field.
Head Coaches: SU: Quentin Hillsman (13th season, 278-139); Miami: Katie Meier (14th season, 268-167)
Coach Bio: Meier, originally from Illinois, played at Duke from 1985-90 — and was a standout while averaging 16.2 points per game during her career. She began coaching as an assistant at UNC-Asheville in 1993, and one season there led to seven as an assistant at Tulane before she got her first head coaching job at Charlotte in 2001. After four years of making the postseason with the 49ers (including the NCAA Tournament in 2003), she left for Miami, where she’s been ever since. Meier’s led the ‘Canes to seven NCAA berths and 20-plus wins in eight of the last nine years. She’s also won gold medals as coach of the USA women’s U18 and U19 squads.
Last year: Miami was 21-11 overall last year, losing to Quinnipiac in the first round of the NCAA Tournament — an 8 vs. 9 game, which we should be unfortunately familiar with. The ‘Canes were tied with Syracuse at 10-6 in the ACC, beating Wake Forest in the second round of the league tournament before falling to Florida State in the quarterfinals. It was a disappointing effort overall after starting the year ranked 24th and pulling upsets over Duke, NC State and Kentucky.
Last game: Miami got a running start against UNC, leading 27-8 after one quarter, and never really looked back from there in a 76-68 win that looks a lot closer than it was thanks to a 28-15 fourth quarter advantage for the Heels. Three ‘Canes players scored in double digits, led by Beatrice Mompremier (17 points) and Mykea Gray (17). Though Miami only shot 40.3 percent from the field, they collected 49 boards and hit 18-of-28 from the line.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Mompremier is a force inside, averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game so far. She’s shooting over 53 percent overall, though just 52.6 percent from the free throw line. Mompremier will be the focal point of the offense, though if Syracuse can get her to the line a bit more, it could end up being to their advantage.
If Syracuse wins: Then the Orange are right back on track after the pesky road loss to Georgia Tech. Syracuse would remain in the strong top third of the ACC, where there’s a sizeable number of teams with one or zero losses in league play. It would also help them build some momentum back up with a huge early February game at Louisville looming.
If Syracuse loses: It’s not a bad loss since Miami’s a pretty good team. But two straight defeats with the meat of the ACC schedule coming up could be the start of an ill-timed slide down the standings. Syracuse needs all the wins it can get in ACC play given the strength of the conference and the NCAA Tournament committee’s tendency to under-seed them.