The University of Miami men’s and women’s basketball teams were both playing on Sunday to reach each program’s first Final Four. The men pulled it off, beating Texas, 88-81, in Kansas City, Missouri. That game would end during the first quarter of the women’s game, and captured cheers from the women’s team and Hurricane fans when the final play was shown on the arena scoreboards.
The women’s team would battle to the end against LSU, but couldn’t complete the double Final Four appearance for ‘The U’.
Angel Reese had 18 rebounds and the LSU Tigers are returning to the women’s Final Four for the first time in 15 years after beating Miami, 54-42 on Sunday night. A rapid rise for the Tigers program under second-year coach Kim Mulkey, to the sport’s biggest stage. Mulkey, a three-time national champion head coach during her tenure at Baylor University.
Alexis Morris would score a team-high of 21 points for LSU and Reese added 13 of her own for the third-seed Tigers. LSU’s length would cause problems for Miami even with Reese, an Associated Press first-team All-American, having an abnormal performance offensively, and the Tigers would offset their offensive hiccups by dominating the rebound category.
The Tigers finished with a 49-35 advantage behind Reese, which led to a 15-3 edge in second-chance points over the Hurricanes.
Not a single shot from three-point range was converted by either team until late in the fourth quarter, that sole three-pointer would come from the Tigers (Shooting 1-for-12 from beyond the arc). As for Miami, they just couldn’t get one to drop through the net from deep, shooting 0-of-15 from the three-point line or beyond.
Jasmyne Roberts scored 22 points for ninth-seed Miami, which had taken quite a wild ride to get to the Elite Eight.
The Hurricanes rallied from a huge 17-point deficit to beat Oklahoma State in the first round, then stunned first-seed Indiana on the road, in addition to beating Villanova during Friday’s Sweet 16 round, despite blowing a lead that was as large as 21-points.
Their last win set off an emotional on-court celebration for Katie Meier’s team, which had played with toughness and athleticism to get to its first Elite Eight. The Hurricanes were trying to match the record for lowest-seeded team ever to reach a Final Four tonight, set by the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1998.
But the Hurricanes struggled from the start offensively, even as their defense kept them hanging around and leaving open opportunities to make a push. Lashae Dwyer’s injury seemed to have been the thorn in Miami’s side, as they were making a late game rally and brought the game within six points, late in the fourth quarter.
Outside of Roberts, who was coming off a career-high performance of 26 points against Villanova. It seemed as if no Hurricanes player could make a shot on Sunday night.
The Hurricanes would shoot 31.6% from the floor and plenty of their missed 3-pointers came off of clean shots. Destiny Harden, who hit the game-winning shot to stun Indiana, scored three points on 0-for-9 shooting with seven missed three-point attempts.
It was a heart breaking conclusion to an incredible run for Miami, the school had fallen short of making history twice in one day. The good news for the ‘Lady Canes’ and coach Katie Meier, Miami returns five of their top six players next season in hopes of another magical season.
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