GREENVILLE, S.C. — Jasmyne Roberts scored a career-high 26 points – including a stickback for the go-ahead, three-point play with 38.8 seconds left – to help Miami overcome blowing a 21-point lead and beat Villanova 70-65 on Friday for its first trip to the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
The ninth-seeded Hurricanes (22-12) hung on down the stretch after Villanova made its push back behind the latest big-scoring effort from All-American Maddy Siegrist.
When it was over, longtime coach Katie Meier turned and started jumping to hug her staff, while players and cheerleaders sprinted to midcourt to celebrate. Meier soon made her way to the sideline near a vocal set of Hurricanes fans and gave two thumbs-up amid the cheering, while Roberts stayed locked in a firm and emotional embrace with teammate Ja’Leah Williams.
Miami had reached the Sweet 16 only once before, in 1992. Now the Hurricanes will play Sunday for the Greenville Region 2 title against the LSU-Utah winner for a trip to the Final Four.
Siegrist, the nation’s scoring leader, had 31 points, 13 rebounds and five steals for fourth-seeded Villanova (30-7). It marked her third 30-point outing in as many tournament games, pushing her to the No. 2 single-season scoring total in Division I history.
Yet it wasn’t enough down the stretch, with Siegrist coming up empty in a couple of key moments late. First came when she posted up Destiny Harden inside, but a quality look on a turnaround hit the backboard before coming off the rim with her team down just 67-65.
Moments later, after a Miami free throw, Siegrist missed wildly from the other side of the lane as Villanova had a chance to extend the game. Instead, Miami secured the rebound, and Roberts hit the clinching free throws with 11.1 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Consider it the latest entry in a wild NCAA novel for the Hurricanes. They first rallied from 17 down to beat Oklahoma State. Then Harden hit the late shot to win at 1-seed Indiana and get them back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 31 years.
Now they have a chance to play for – and celebrate – a whole lot more.
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