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Miami 90, BC 80

BC can’t weather these Hurricanes

Miami’s Sylvia Bullock feels the pressure of Carolyn Swords in the first half as the host Eagles fought for an 8-point lead. Miami’s Sylvia Bullock feels the pressure of Carolyn Swords in the first half as the host Eagles fought for an 8-point lead. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / February 18, 2011

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Coach Sylvia Crawley could sense a wave about to overtake her Boston College women’s basketball team.

The No. 13 Miami Hurricanes were swatting away passes, making steals, and turning miscues into points last night. An 8-point halftime lead for the Eagles evaporated three minutes into the second half as the Hurricanes swarmed the Eagles and put together a 10-0 run.

Behind the hot shooting of guards Shenise Johnson (30 points) and Riquna Williams (25), the Hurricanes secured a 90-80 victory at Conte Forum.

“We could feel it happening to us, but I’m not sure if we knew how to stop it from happening,’’ Crawley said. “They just turned it up a notch. They get out in passing lanes and they body up if you put the ball over your head. They got some steals and some transition buckets.’’

Williams and Johnson combined to score the first 18 points for Miami (23-3, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the half. That was good for a 59-55 lead with 13:31 to go. Williams scored all but 2 of her points in the second half and added eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Eagles (17-9, 4-7) were trapped in a rerun of turnovers.

The last time these teams met, the Hurricanes forced the Eagles into a season-high 31 turnovers in a 65-53 loss Jan. 16.

Last night, BC had 23 turnovers that led to 29 points.

While the turnovers created problems, Crawley said, her team also struggled with its transition defense.

“In the first five minutes, Miami turned up the heat and it didn’t seem like we were quite ready in the second half,’’ she said. “We weren’t getting back quick enough. That was the major problem, in addition to our turnovers.’’

The loss was a tough one for the Eagles, who fought back to take a lead at halftime — only the fifth time the Hurricanes have trailed at the break this season. In fact, the Eagles held an advantage after the first half in both meetings.

Eagles guard Kerri Shields hit a 3-pointer with 5:55 left to tie the score at 73, but the game quickly slipped away from there.

BC was hampered inside, with forward Stefanie Murphy laboring with a sprained ankle. She played 28 minutes and had 11 rebounds and 10 points.

Carolyn Swords led the team with 23 points (on 10-for-13 shooting) and 13 rebounds.

Miami took advantage of its transition opportunities and converted numerous layups, outscoring the Eagles in the paint, 50-32.

Now the Hurricanes are in a three-way tie for first in the ACC with Duke and Florida State. They were coming off back-to-back victories against ranked opponents (No. 12 Maryland, No. 13 North Carolina) for the first time in school history.

As the ACC regular season winds down, a win against a strong opponent like the Hurricanes would have been a boost for BC. There are three games left on the schedule — at Virginia Sunday, at North Carolina State Feb. 24, and against Maryland Feb. 27.

“We have to finish strong,’’ Crawley said. “Every game is going to be tough and everybody is fighting for a certain seed in the [ACC] tournament now, and they’re trying to finish off strong, so there’s not going to be an easy game.

“Every game is going to be a battle.”

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.