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Friday, July 19, 2019

Up and Down the ACC: Miami’s Resurgence, North Carolina’s Stumbles Are the Week’s Top Stories

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Photo Caption: The Miami Hurricanes handed No. 5 Maryland its first loss of the season last week, behind a 34-point explosion by Riquna Williams. The senior guard matched a career-high with eight three-pointers in the 75-63 upset on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, in Coral Gables, Fla.

Photo Credit: Courtesy HurricaneSports.com/JC Ridley

By Rob Clough

Two big stories headlined the Atlantic Coast Conference news last week.  The first was No. 13/16 Miami’s bounce back from a shaky start to hand No. 5 Maryland its first loss of the 2011-12 season, 75-63.

It sure didn’t look like an upset in the making during one of the worst first-half performances of the Hurricanes’ season, however. The ‘Canes fared well enough for the first eight minutes, quickly running up a 12-point (22-10) lead, but then proceeded to squander it, missing an unprecedented 21 straight shots as the Terps held them scoreless from the field for the next 10 minutes, while Maryland ran off on a 15-1 run.

By the time Sylvia Bullock finally netted Miami’s next bucket, the score stood tied at 25 and only a minute and change remained in the first half.

Fortunately for the 1,500 home fans in attendance, it was also the lowest scoring opening half of the season for the Terps, and Miami headed into the break trailing by just two points, 25-27, having shot a miserable 26.3 percent (10-38) from the field for the period.

Maryland wasted no timing in stretching its lead to seven when the second half got underway. But that’s when Miami guard Riquna Williams went berserk, uncorking a fusillade of three-point bombs for which Maryland had no defense. By game’s end, Williams had scored 34 points, including a career-high-tying eight three-pointers. 

Meanwhile, the Hurricane defense held the Terps to 21 points beneath its nation’s-best scoring average of 84.4 points per game.

Miami star Shenisee Johnson did see her 87-game streak of double-figure scoring come to an end, finishing with just six points on an icy two-for-15 from the field (13.3 percent). But Johnson didn’t seem to mind, as she watched her team extend its home-floor win streak to 34 straight games, while knocking off its first Top-Five opponent ever.

Stefanie Yderstrom (12 points, four assists) and Morgan Stroman (10 points, eight rebounds) joined Williams in double figures for Miami.

Alyssa Thomas led Maryland with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists (but eight turnovers); Tiana Hawkins contributed a 12-point, 11-board double-double; and Anjale Barrett added 10 points and five assists.

Miami followed up on its Maryland win by beating arch-rival Florida State on the road for the first time in 25 years. Miami, which had led by as many as 19 points in the second half, pulled out a 60-57 win, staving off a come-from-behind upset by the Seminoles—who had managed to tie the score with 37 seconds remaining—as Yderstrom sliced the nets with the winning trey with just 17 seconds on the clock.

This time Johnson led the way for the ‘Canes with 24 points, in the process becoming just the fourth player in Miami school history to pass the 2,000-career-point mark. Williams and Morgan Stroman added 11 points apiece for the ‘Canes, while Natasha Howard led the way for the Seminoles with 22 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, with much of her output coming in the second half to fuel FSU’s rally.

The second big story this week was nowhere near as cheery, at least when it comes to the ACC’s standing in the Top 25: No. 22/21 North Carolina’s shocking five-point upset (47-52) at home by lowly Clemson, a team that had previously lost by 22 points at home to Virginia Tech. 

This was a case of a young and hungry team in Clemson being rewarded for its hard work and attention to detail during the game, and a barely interested Carolina club apparently thinking they could skate by on talent alone.

The Tigers sat back in a zone all night, daring the Heels to shoot, and the result was a feeble 17-of-59 (28.8 percent) shooting effort from the field for UNC and even worse one-for-17 shooting (5.9 percent—yes, you read that right!) from the three-point line. Led by a career-high double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore post Quinyotta Pettaway, Clemson out-shot and out-rebounded the Tar Heels, while holding them 31 points below their season scoring average.

The victory not only gave Clemson its first win of the season in conference play, but also ended its 53-game losing streak against nationally ranked opponents. It was the Tigers’ first win in Chapel Hill in more than 10 years, its first win over any nationally ranked opponent since defeating then-No. 15 Rutgers, 69-64, on Nov. 30, 2003, and its first road win over a ranked-opponent since Dec. 18, 2001.

Clemson is off until this this Thursday when they host North Carolina State, but UNC’s misfortunes were far from over. The Tar Heels traveled to Storrs, Conn., where, before a national TV audience, the No. 3 Huskies ran circles around the helpless Heels at both ends of the floor. The ESPN commentators quickly ran out of anything meaningful to say, as UConn all but put the game away in the first 10 minutes, running up a 31-10 lead by the 10:10 mark of the opening half. By the break, the Huskies led, 51-16, and that was pretty much all she wrote, as UConn’s Geno Auriemma used much of the second half to give his bench some game time. 

UConn has beaten the Tar Heels in each of their last five meetings, but the 86-33 final score represented North Carolina’s worst loss ever to Connecticut, and perhaps, quite simply, its worst loss ever ... period!

For the record, UConn, which had as many assists (26) as the Tar Heels had turnovers, boasted six players in double figures, led by Bria Hartley (17 points, eight assists) and freshman reliever Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (15 points, six rebounds). Little used relief post Kiah Stokes came off the bench to notch an 11-point/11-rebound double-double; Tiffany Hayes added 13 points and seven boards; and Stefanie Dolson and Carolyn Doty added 10 apiece.

Not a single Tar Heel registered double digits, with the sorry effort led by the recently returned Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (nine points, eight rebounds, three turnovers).

Let’s take a look at the rest of the week’s ACC results, the current league standings, our Full Court Press “Surprise Player of the Week,” our new feature—“The Stat of the Week,” and the coming week’s ACC games.

Summing Up the Week’s Results

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

  • Clemson 52 @ No. 22/21 North Carolina 47
  • Wake Forest 67 @ Georgia Tech 71
  • No. 5 Maryland 63 @ No. 13/11 Miami (Fla.) 75
  • Boston College 57 @ North Carolina State 80
  • Virginia 52 @ Virginia Tech 39

Friday, Jan. 13, 2012

  • Florida State 66 @ No. 7/6 Duke 73

Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

  • No. 13/11 Miami 60 @ Florida State 57
  • Georgia Tech 68 @ Boston College 58
  • No. 7/6 Duke 61 @ Virginia Tech 34

Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

  • No. 22/21 North Carolina 35 @ No. 3 Connecticut 86
  • Virginia 61 @ No. 5 Maryland 68
  • North Carolina State 75 @ Wake Forest 66


Parsing The Week’s Results

Georgia Tech took care of business against both Wake Forest and Boston College.  Sasha Goodlett continued her fine senior campaign with 19 points against Wake and a career-high 26 points and 19 boards against the Eagles.

Those games were perhaps closer than they should have been (the Jackets only defeated Wake by four points), but the final results are what ultimately count, and in the end, Georgia Tech took care of business.

Speaking of which, No. 7/6 Duke quietly went to 5-0 in league play, taking sole possession of first place in the ACC standings by defeating Florida State, 73-66, at home
and Virginia Tech, 61-34, on the road.  The latter game was a blowout, but Florida State
was very much in the game until deep in the second half, before a trey from Duke’s Tricia Liston, followed by back-to-back jumpers by Elizabeth Williams and Liston—all fueled by the on-target passing of Haley Peters and Chelsea Gray—stretched the Blue Devils’ lead to double-figures with 6:31 left to play.

Liston led the Blue Devils with 20 points, including three-of-six from the arc; Williams contributed 18 points and eight rebounds; and Grey tacked on 11 points plus five assists, four steals and four rebounds (but five turnovers).

Natasha Howard, Cierra Bravard, and Chastity Clayton had 17, 16, and 15 points, respectively, for the Seminoles, while Chelsea Davis came off the bench to chip in 10 more.

North Carolina State won its first two league games by easily whipping Boston College (80-57) and holding off Wake Forest, 75-66, on the road.  The latter was an important game because the State-Wake series could wind up swinging an NCAA tournament bid one
way or the other. 

Virginia continued to be one of the tougher teams in the league as they ground down Virginia Tech (52-39) and fought No. 5 Maryland (61-68) from opening tip to final buzzer in College Park.  The Hoos are seriously undermanned, but their defense is so disciplined that it’s hard for even the best of teams to put them away.

Trending Up: Miami

The No. 13/11 ‘Canes went to Atlanta and pulled out a tough 77-65 win over the Yellow Jackets on Monday.  That was an important game because Miami has been shaky on the road this season. Following that up by knocking off previously unbeaten No. 5 Maryland is the kind of win that bumps a team up a seed in NCAA tournament seeding consideration. ‘The Canes did it their way: through Riquna Williams’s long-range bombing.

Trending Down:  North Carolina

After walking the razor’s edge to great effect a week ago, last week saw the Tar Heels crater just as their roster was returning to more-or-less full strength.  The Heels sleepwalked their way through the first thirty minutes of the Clemson game, evidently thinking all along that their talent would win them the game. Instead, Clemson managed to get a bit of separation and kept the Heels at arm’s length for the duration.

The less said about the debacle in Storrs, the better. It must be noted, however, that unranked Holy Cross and Farleigh-Dickinson put up more of a fight against the Huskies than the Heels.

One problem with the Heels is that even with most of the line-up back in uniform, some of the players who are getting time still aren’t 100-percent healthy.  Laura Broomfield is playing with a
stress reaction in her foot and wore goggles to combat a scratched cornea suffered against Maryland.  She wasn’t nearly as effective as usual.  She’la White is coming off a sprained ankle.  Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is either rusty or just a horrible fit in an offense that is still getting to know one another, because she’s eating up possessions in an highly inefficient manner.
Waltiea Rolle is mostly playing spot minutes.

North Carolina’s Chay Shegog believes the situation will improve, as the team grows more familiar with the players recently returning to action:

“We haven’t built the chemistry that other teams have built,” she stated. “But now that we have some people back, we can build from here.”

The Heels seemed to be playing better with a smaller but healthier rotation.  We’ll see how the chemistry evolves over the remainder of this season.

But UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who has played North Carolina annually over the last eight years, winning the last five match-ups, put his finger on a more inherent problem:

“There were some times we played them when they were just way bigger, more athletic,” said Auriemma. “They took advantage of those things and had a lot more offensive players back then. I think that’s the difference I see right now. I see they don’t have as many offensive players as they used to have.”


Current Standings

ACC Women’s Basketball Standings
(As of January 16, 2012)
Rank School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
1 Duke 5-0 1.000 14-2 .875
2 Maryland 4-1 .800 17-1 .944
3 Miami 4-1 .800 15-3 .833
4 Georgia Tech 3-2 .600 13-5 .722
5 North Carolina 2-2 .500 12-5 .706
6 Virginia 2-3 .400 14-5 .737
7 NC State 2-3 .400 12-6 .667
8 Florida State 2-3 .400 10-9 .526
9 Virginia Tech 2-3 .400 6-12 .333
10 Wake Forest 1-3 .250 11-6 .647
11 Clemson 1-3 .250 5-10 .333
12 Boston College 0-4 .000 5-12 .294
Source: TheACC.com

Full Court Surprise Player of the Week: Quinyotta Pettaway, Clemson

The sophomore forward out-hustled the vaunted North Carolina front line, with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block.  She was the key player in the hard-working Clemson squad’s impressive upset of a more talented North Carolina team that didn’t take them seriously. Pettaway was certainly not afraid to be physical, either, bumping her opponents off
the spots and preventing easy cuts. Her performance gave the Tigers their first conference win of the season, their first win in Chapel Hill in a decade, and their first win against a ranked opponent in more than eight years. Her performance speaks volumes about Clemson head coach Itoro Coleman’s efforts to build a culture of excellence at Clemson.


Stat of the Week: RPI


Since we’re at about the halfway point of the season and are through the first quarter of league games, now seems a good time to check out a statistic known as the Rating Percentage Index (“RPI”) of teams throughout the ACC.

Nearly three years ago, Full Court devoted an entire article to the RPI, an arcane system the NCAA uses for ranking teams in various sports and others use in an effort to compare the relative strength and weaknesses of sports teams, especially those who have not met head-to-head.

In particular, RPI involves an attempt to move beyond complete reliance on a team’s win-loss record, which can be rather meaningless when you don’t know how good the team’s opponents were, by attempting to quantify the team’s strength of schedule (another stat often abbreviated as “SOS”).

Recapitulating the article’s entire discussion of the history of this stat, the way it operates and the circumstances that may make it inaccurate or unfair in particular cases, is beyond our scope here. But for those who aren’t familiar with the concept, we will share this simple definition of RPI from the article:

“The RPI is a simple formula. A team’s RPI is a percentage based on three factors: The team’s winning percentage (25%), the winning percentage of its opponents (50%), and the winning percentage of the team’s opponent’s opponents (25%). It does not consider margin of victory, only wins and losses. In recent years the RPI has come under scrutiny and as a result some modifications have been made, primarily for men’s basketball, to account for home and road wins and losses.”

(See Christopher Thompson, As I See Things: Rating the RPI, Full Court Press (Feb. 26, 2009), republished at Rating the RPI.)

Because of the manner in which the RPI is calculated, a team’s RPI is subject to constant change, not only when the team in question wins or loses another game, but also when one of its opponents—or its opponents’ opponents—heads into action.

Here, then, are the current RPIs for ACC teams:

  • Maryland: RPI 8, SOS 28
  • Miami: RPI 11, SOS 19
  • Duke: RPI 12, SOS 25
  • Georgia Tech: RPI 17, SOS 10
  • Virginia: RPI 37, SOS 56
  • Florida State: RPI 49, SOS 11
  • NC State: RPI 53, SOS 40
  • Wake Forest: RPI 91, SOS 76
  • UNC: RPI 155, SOS 256
  • Virginia Tech: RPI 176, SOS 95
  • Boston College: RPI 192, SOS 49
  • Clemson: RPI 225, SOS 129

Source: All RPI numbers used in this article were taken from realtimerpi.com.

A few things become obvious looking at this list:

  • Maryland, Miami and Duke are rightly among the league’s elite but none is, at this point, in a position where it is likely to become a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

  • Virginia is in great shape for an NCAA bid if the Cavs keep beating the opponents they’re favored to defeat.

  • If Florida State can simply get some wins, the Seminoles will be OK as well.

  • North Carolina State is also in decent shape but can’t afford to drop any games to bad teams.

  • North Carolina is the most interesting case here. Despite their national ranking, the Tar Heels’ wretched non-conference schedule could come back to haunt them as they put together a case for the NCAA tournament. However, if they simply start beating more good ACC teams, their overall record will put them in good stead.

  • Wake is already once again on the outside looking in. Fortunately, however, this is the time of the year when RPIs are more of a general guide than a manifest destiny.

  • By the way, readers may be interested to know that as a conference, the ACC ranks sixth among the NCAA Division I major conferences, with an average RPI of 0.5766 (and average SOS of 0.5644) for the women’s basketball teams of its 12 member institutions. Also of interest: Though members of the media (including Full Court’s own conference beat writers) often like to describe the BIG EAST or the SEC as the “toughest league in the nation,” those conferences actually rank No. 2 and 3 in RPI, behind the Big 12, which boasts the highest RPI and Strength of Schedule ratings in the country. Here’s the breakdown for the top 10 leagues as measured by RPI:

    NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball RPI
    (As of January 16, 2012)
    RPI Rank Conference RPI SOS SOS Rank Teams
    1Big 120.62160.5789110
    2Big East0.59700.5740216
    4Big Ten0.57980.5657312
    6Atlantic Coast0.57660.5644412
    7Colonial Athletic0.54770.5410712
    8West Coast0.52570.524189
    9Atlantic 100.52030.5211914
    10Missouri Valley0.50920.50571010


    Five ACC Games To Watch, 1/17/2012 - 1/23/2012

    • 1. No. 5 Duke @ Georgia Tech.  The Jackets are no joke; they had Maryland in deep trouble before they let that game slip away. Meanwhile, Duke doesn’t have a great road win as of yet.  Getting a win over a top ACC team could cement a great record for the Jackets come tournament selection time, given the ease of most of their league schedule.
      This game will come down to turnovers: If Duke keeps their turnovers under 20, they will likely win because they have more weapons and are a better rebounding team. If Georgia Tech can force 25 or more turnovers, it could mean a Jacket upset, which would be their first win over Duke since 1994.

        Prediction: Ultimately, Duke’s ability to hit shots should give them the win.

      When: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EST, Gwinnett Center, Atlanta, Ga. (ESPN3)

    • 2. No. 11/10 Miami @ Virginia. The disciplined Hoos are quietly turning into a team that no one wants to play because of their tenacious defense, which forces turnovers, and well-oiled offense that gets the job done while limiting its mistakes.  Miami is a team that loves causing chaos and turning their opponents over, but they haven’t been brilliant on the road.

      Prediction: The ‘Canes will win a close game, as Virginia lacks that star player to take over down the stretch.  Meanwhile, Miami has a plethora of such go-to players.

      When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EST, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.

    • 3. No. 24/NR-RV (13) North Carolina @ North Carolina State.  This game has serious NCAA tournament implications.  If State wins, they’ll have pulled themselves out of a losing league record and dealt yet another blow to the reeling Heels. If North Carolina wins against one of their arch-rivals, then they’ll be right back in the league race and will improve their RPI to boot. The key will be State’s ability to handle Tar Heels center Chay Shegog, while getting the most from their own shooters. North Carolina simply can’t win if Shegog doesn’t have a great game. Conversely, if Kody Burke shows up to play for 40 minutes for State, then the Wolfpack will almost certainly win.

      Prediction: Momentum is not running in the Tar Heels’ favor. I have a hunch the Pack will pull away late.

      When: Sunday, January 22, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST, Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, No. Car. (RSN)

    • 4. Georgia Tech @ Florida State.  This is a big game for both teams. Florida State has shown it can hang with the ACC’s best in close losses to Miami and Duke.  Now they need to pick up some actual quality wins. Besting Georgia Tech would certainly qualify, and on the whole, these two teams match up similarly.  The difference lies with the Seminoles’ problems at ball-handling and in their lack of depth.

      Prediction:  The Jackets will exploit both FSU weaknesses to win a physical battle.

      When: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST, Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla.

    • 5. No. 8/7 Maryland @ No. 5 Duke. In what is clearly the ACC game of the week, a showdown between two top-ten teams, Maryland would seem to be the favorite. The two teams do not match-up well, and in particular, it is not at all evident that Duke has anyone who can guard Alyssa Thomas or even slow her down. In most other respects, the two teams are roughly even: Both rebound well and have productive frontcourts; both feature point guards who can shoot as well as pass the ball; both have off-guards with range; and both teams have productive bench players.

      Prediction: As long as Thomas stays out of foul trouble and the Terps limit their turnovers, they will likely break Duke’s school-record, 33-game-long home winning streak.

      When: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, 3:30 p.m. EST, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Chapel Hill, No. Car. (ESPNU)

      Originally published Tue, January 17, 2012

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.