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Miami women top Florida State, forge tie atop ACC
By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Feb 19, 2012

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)—The Miami Hurricanes were clinging to a one-point lead with 3:43 left in Sunday’s game when the public-address announcer reported a defeat for Duke, which tightened the race atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Miami coach Katie Meier pretended not to hear.

“I was kind of wondering why the crowd was cheering so loud,” Meier said with a smile. “I didn’t see a dog-catching Frisbee out there.”

Maybe it was a coincidence, but the No. 6-ranked Hurricanes didn’t allow a point the rest of way and beat Florida State, 67-60.

The Hurricanes (24-3, 13-1) pulled into a tie for the league lead with No. 5 Duke, which lost at Maryland. Miami plays at Duke on Friday.

“If we want what we want, we were going to have to win at Duke whether they won or lost today,” Meier said. The Blue Devils’ defeat makes it likely Miami will move into the top five for the first time ever.

The Hurricanes earned their 39th consecutive home victory by taking advantage of 24 Florida State turnovers. Miami scored 21 points off turnovers to four for the Seminoles.

“That has to happen for us to win,” said Shenise Johnson, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds. “We have to create turnovers and push the tempo. Seventy-five feet of the court has to be ours, because from 15 feet in—we’re a lot smaller than everybody else. So we want to try to speed the game up. That’s what we do. That’s Miami basketball.”

The Seminoles (13-15, 5-9) have lost four games in a row for the first time since 2003-04.

Florida State outshot Miami and outrebounded it, but turnovers more than compensated for the disparity. The smaller, quicker Hurricanes used their full-court press repeatedly to create offensive chances, and they outscored Florida State 13-0 on fast breaks.

The Hurricanes also outscored the Seminoles by 15 points from 3-point range, where Florida State went 0 for 5.

“We had a lot of costly turnovers, and that was the difference,” Seminoles coach Sue Semrau said. “They did a great job of keeping us busy on the perimeter.”

Riquna Williams scored 24 points for the Hurricanes, combining with Johnson to give them a potent one-two punch, as usual.

“We were both aggressive,” Johnson said. “We were looking for each other. We did a great job of knowing where each other was.”

The Hurricanes swept the season series and earned their 13th consecutive victory. Meier collected her 200th win.

“It feels old,” she said with a smile.

FSU’s Natasha Howard had her 11th double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but she committed six turnovers. Cierra Bravard had 12 points and Chelsea Davis 11 for the Seminoles, who never led in the second half.

Alexa Deluzio’s basket capped an 8-0 run that allowed Florida State to briefly tie it at 57 with 5:20 left, but that was their final basket. Miami regained the lead for good with 4:10 to go on a follow shot by Williams, and the Hurricanes sealed the win by sinking five of six free throws in the final 35 seconds.

“If you have a season like we’re having, you’re going to win in a lot of different ways,” Meier said.

Miami raced to an 8-2 lead then fell behind 19-16. Williams and Johnson sank 3-pointers in the final 70 seconds of the first half to give the Hurricanes a 36-31 halftime advantage.

Williams converted a three-point play and sank a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to make it 50-39—Miami’s biggest lead.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Florida St.
Natasha Howard Natasha Howard
8-11,  19 Pts
13 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Miami (FL)
Riquna Williams Riquna Williams
8-20,  24 Pts
3 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Conference Scoreboard

Sunday, Feb 19