CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams are gone, taking plenty of offensive talent with them.
So in its opener, No. 24 Miami more than compensated with defense.
Playing for the first time in five seasons without the two players who made up the best backcourt in school history, the Hurricanes got 19 points from Michelle Woods, 17 more from Morgan Stroman and rolled past North Florida 77-24 in the season-opener for both clubs on Friday night.
It was the lowest point total Miami ever allowed to an NCAA opponent, beating the previous mark of 26 given up to Bethune-Cookman on Jan. 25, 1990. Still, Miami coach Katie Meier insisted that the Hurricanes were far from perfect, and her players agreed with that assessment.
“It wasn’t about our opponent tonight,” Meier said. “It was about our identity and figuring it out.”
The win extended Miami’s home-court winning streak to 41 games, tying Baylor for the nation’s second-longest current run. Stanford took a 79-game home win streak into its opener against Fresno State Friday night.
Miami’s next chance at a home win comes on Nov. 18 against No. 20 Tennessee — which was upset by Chattanooga 80-71 on Friday.
Whatever upset chance that existed in this one was gone early. In the first 13-plus minutes, Stroman was single-handedly outscoring North Florida 8-6.
And defense was the theme throughout. North Florida shot only 14 percent (7 of 50), watched Miami turn 34 turnovers into 43 points, and was outscored by the Hurricanes 42-4 in the paint.
“Defense, that’s just working hard,” Stroman said. “That’s about your effort. You really can’t teach it. You go out there and work hard.”
Miami allowed only two points in the game’s first 10 minutes — the first basket of the game — and forced North Florida into more than three times as many first-half turnovers (17) than field goals (five). The Hurricanes scored 14 unanswered points after the Ospreys opened the scoring, then built a 36-12 lead by halftime and a 45-15 edge four minutes into the second half.
Pepper Wilson added 10 points for Miami, which had all 11 of its players score.
Johnson and Williams — both four-year starters and the No. 3 and No. 5 scorers, respectively, in school history — combined to score 4,410 points for Miami. Johnson also had at least 122 assists and 78 steals in all four of her seasons as a Hurricane, and played in 89 Miami victories.
There was no sense of nostalgia on Friday, however. For Meier and the Hurricanes, it’s a new chapter.
“I feel a real responsibility to this particular group of people and how to make them successful,” Meier said.
Destinee Smith and Jada Bennett each scored five points for North Florida (0-1). Raneisha Lamar had a game-high nine rebounds for the Ospreys.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.