Canes Look to Rebound

It was so ugly University of Miami women's basketball coach Ferne Labati didn't bother showing the Hurricanes game film of Wednesday night's 93-58 loss at Notre Dame - and who can blame her. Miami committed 37 turnovers, was torched in the paint 44-22 and shot just 41.2 percent from the floor in one of the worst performances Labati has ever witnessed.

"We just didn't play with any intensity on defense and I thought we completely lose our focus early in the game," said Labati. "But we've already erased it. It's done with and now we have to move on."

With the start of March right around the corner and the Hurricanes virtually guaranteed an NCAA Tournament berth, Labati would like nothing more than a strong finish to the regular season. But in order to pull that off the No. 21 Hurricanes (20-5, 9-5 in the Big East) will have to clean up their act - starting tonight when they host West Virginia (19-7, 10-4 in the Big East) at the Convocation Center.

"These are the type of games we need to win if we're going to be a serious contender in the (NCAA) tournament," said Labati. "I really believe there are about 10 teams out there that can make a run in the tournament and if we can cut down on our mistakes we're definitely one of them."

The Mountaineers, coming off an 80-71 victory over nationally ranked Rutgers, are one of the best shooting teams in the nation and will no doubt provide a stern test for UM's defense. West Virginia shot 71.4 percent (15 of 21) from the floor in the first half of the win over the Scarlet Knights. Senior guards Kate Bulger, Janell Dunlap, and Michelle Carter combined for 49 points to help the Mountaineers snap a two-game losing skid.

"They're a real solid team from top to bottom and those girls can shoot the ball," said Labati. "We really have to get back to in your face defense if we want to win this game."

Bulger, who has started 108 straight games, leads West Virginia with a 14.8 points per game average. Bulger has been the team's high-scorer 12 times this season. Junior guard Yolanda Paige, who recorded eight assists against Rutgers, has 204 assists this season, a single-season record. Senior guard Sherell Sowho is second on the team with 13.4 points per game.

Sophomore guard Tamara James leads the Hurricanes with 16.9 points a contest, while senior forward Chanivia Broussard is second with 14.6 points a game. Broussard is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game. Labati is also counting on UM guards Yalonda McCormick and Melissa Knight to contain Bulger in the backcourt and limit the Mountaineers chances at easy baskets.

"That team will do a real number on us if we don't play well defensively," said Labati.

UM leads the all-time series 11-3 but West Virginia has won the last two meetings.

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