Destiny Harden, making a habit of second-half heroics for the University of Miami women’s basketball team, did it again Thursday night.
She scored a career-high 27 points, including 13 in the third quarter, but UM fell short 72-64 to Virginia Tech in the second round of the ACC tournament.
The No. 7 seeded Hokies led by as many as 21 points, and the 10th-seeded Canes twice closed the gap to seven but could not get any closer in the final quarter.
“A really disappointing start for us,” said UM coach Katie Meier. “They are a team that can score in bunches. We didn’t defend them well at all at the beginning of the game, but they’re really good, too. I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. I thought we’d play Miami ball. We waited too long. We need to get back to being the team that’s the frontrunner and the other team’s trying to make a miraculous comeback.”
The tournament began with bad news for Miami, which ended the season with an 11-11 overall record. Senior Kelsey Marshall was unable to play after injuring her leg in the previous game against Clemson.
Harden did her best to compensate for Marshall’s absence. She scored eight points in the first half, and stepped it up in the third quarter, leading UM on a 16-2 run to shrink Virginia Tech’s lead to seven points with five minutes to go. She also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Destiny’s a worker,” Meier said. “She’s in incredible shape, so when other teams get a little tired, Des keeps working, gets hustle points and that gets her confidence up. That kid is a true Hurricane, we can be down and she doesn’t get frustrated.”
Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba added 13 points and eight rebounds for UM.
The Hokies scored 11 of the next 13 points for a comfortable 16-point cushion, and then the Canes went on a 10-1 run to get to within seven. But that’s as close as they would get.
Meier said earlier in the week that Virginia Tech was much better than its seeding, and the Hokies (14-8) certainly looked like it – even after their top scorer Aisha Sheppard, the nation’s leading three-point shooter, left the game with a first-half injury. She had seven points at the time.
Four Hokies scored in double figures. Elizabeth Kitley had 16 points and seven rebounds, freshman Georgia Amoore had 16 points and five assists, Cayla King scored 15 and D’asia Gregg had 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Hokies will play No. 2 seed N.C. State on Friday.