Published November 20, 2014
Turnovers proved to be the difference for the 22nd-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in Wednesday's game against No. 6 Miami.
The Tar Heels committed a season-high 35 turnovers against the Hurricanes who converted the mistakes into 39 points.
The costly turnovers resulted in a 61-37 loss for the Tar Heels (17-7, 7-4 ACC), who had their lowest scoring output ever in conference play.
"Our guards have gotten better and they had been doing a good job, but it was extremely physical and our guards are young," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt accounted for 11 turnovers. Krista Gross added eight as nine of the 11 Tar Heels that saw action recorded a turnover.
"The difference was guard play," Hatchell said.
North Carolina did not have a player score in double figures as Laura Bloomfield led the Tar Heels with seven points and six rebounds.
Miami (21-3, 10-1) was led by Shenise Johnson's 19 points. Riquna Williams added 17 and Stefanie Yderstrom chipped in 10 points with seven steals for the Hurricanes, who won their 38th straight home game.
The 38-game home streak is the third-longest active streak in the nation. Only Connecticut (98) and Stanford (74) have longer streaks.
With the win, Miami avenged their only ACC loss as the Tar Heels beat the Hurricanes 65-63 in Chapel Hill on Jan. 2.
"We felt like we lost it (the last time) and something we could change," Johnson said. "We wanted to make sure we came out and played Miami basketball, and do what we do well for 40 minutes. We didn't do that up in Carolina."
Miami did not have a great shooting night at 37.3 percent (22 of 59) from the floor and had 23 turnovers of their own, but they still outshot North Carolina, which was held to 26.8 percent (15 of 56).
"It's never going to always be pretty in February, but gritty is better than pretty right now," Miami coach Katie Meier said.
After North Carolina scored the game's first four points, the Hurricanes went on a 17-0 run sparked by three 3-pointers by Williams. Johnson and Shawnice Wilson each scored four during the run. During the pivotal run, the Tar Heels missed nine consecutive shots and had seven turnovers.
"I've got great upperclassmen," Meier said. "What I love about them is they have that wisdom, besides the talent and capability, that they know how we're going to get this team and when our moment is going to come."
Waltiea Rolle ended the six-minute scoring drought for the Tar Heels with a basket.
However, Miami maintained a steady lead throughout the half, but it was cut to 27-20 after a jumper by Ruffin-Pratt. However, Miami countered with a pair of field goals including a 3-pointer by Yderstrom from the right wing.
"We didn't play particularly well at North Carolina and we let a lead ago," Meier said. "We were in control of the game and then they took the lead with a minute to go. That was something that we never do, so we weren't going to let the lead dwindle and I thought we responded at huge times."
Miami led 32-22 at the break.
Yderstrom connected again from long range early in the second half forcing North Carolina to take a timeout down by 15 points.
The Hurricanes led by double digits the rest of the way.