Balanced, hot shooting Miami women beat South Florida 78-66

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Karla Erjavec scored 14 points to lead a balanced Miami offense to a 78-66 win over South Florida on Friday in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament.

The No. 8 seeded Hurricanes (21-12) shot 54% and all 10 players who played more than a minute scored to help Miami win its ninth game out of the last 11.

Hurricanes coach Katie Meier planned on having her team play a half-court game, like what got them to the Atlantic Coast Conference finals. But she said her players looked like horses raring to go early on, telling her “don’t call sets — let us go.”

“So I kind of let them go a little bit more. When I tried to slow it down didn’t look so good. Sometimes you defer to your players, and they were absolutely loudly saying, ‘we want to score today,’” Meier said.

The Hurricanes scored 24 points in the first quarter and led by as much as 19 before halftime. Ninth-seeded South Florida (24-9) kept hanging around, twice cutting the deficit to nine in the second half. But they couldn’t get any closer.

The 78 points were the second most the Hurricanes have scored this season. Five players were in double-figures.

“They are very, very, very difficult to score against. I’m as surprised as anyone that we got to 78 and that we had three quarters that we got 20 points,” Meier said.

Miami advances to Sunday’s second round against the tournament’s top overall seed South Carolina. The Hurricanes will be playing a third No. 1 seed in the tournament in five games after beating Louisville and losing to North Carolina State in the ACC tournament.

Elena Tsineke led South Florida with 21 points and Elisa Pinzan added 19 points for the Bulls, who played only seven players most of the game and whose bench was outscored 20-9 by Miami.

“They were a lot deeper. That’s something we need to get better at in the off-season, and we will,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said.

HOT SHOOTER

Erjavec isn’t Miami’s best shooter this season, but when the Hurricanes needed her Friday, she was on.

The senior from Croatia had 11 of her 14 points in the second half, twice knocking down key shots when South Florida made runs,

“They were come back at us and we were tired and Karla just did things that had nothing to do with coach Meier. It was 100% Karla off a ball screen, Karla off a dig-out, Karla on a little pull-up,” Meier said, “One time she shot it and I was like, ‘Why not? ’The team started laughing.. Why not Karla?”

BIG PICTURE

South Florida: The Bulls ran into a hot shooting team to lose in the first round for the third NCAA tournament in a row.

Miami: The victory was Meier’s 400th win. The Hurricanes got 29 points off the bench to just nine points for the Bulls, wearing out South Florida in the fourth quarter.

___

More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up