GREENVILLE, S.C. – For much of the NCAA Tournament, the Hurricanes have found a way.
They rallied from a double-digit deficit to extend their season. They weathered late charges from higher-seeded opponents. They silenced more than 14,000 fans in a hostile environment. And their smothering defensive schemes neutralized several All-Americans.
Because of all of that, on Sunday, Miami found itself on a stage where it’s never been: the Elite Eight.
But the Hurricanes’ historic NCAA Tournament run came to an end, with ninth-seeded Miami coming up short in a 54-42 loss to third-seeded LSU at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
The loss snapped Miami’s three-game win streak and ended the Hurricanes’ season, but even through the disappointment of the moment, Miami’s players had plenty of reason to be proud.
Before Sunday, they’d never advanced to the Sweet 16. Never advanced to the Elite Eight. Never knocked off a No. 1 seed on that team’s home floor.
Still, there’s no doubt the Elite Eight loss stung.
Veterans Destiny Harden and Karla Erjavec couldn’t hold back the tears as they came off the floor for the final time and hugged Hurricanes head coach Katie Meier and their teammates.
And sophomore Jasmyne Roberts – who emerged as one of the NCAA Tournament’s biggest stars for Miami and had a game-high 22 points on Sunday – hid her face briefly under a towel while teammate Ja’Leah Williams tried to provide encouragement.
“Right now, it hurts because we competed. We gave it our all,” Harden later said. “We took the program somewhere it had never been…I think I’m going to remember this forever. Right now, it stings, but I’m glad we’re able to say we were the team to make history for Miami.”
The Hurricanes (22-13) held LSU’s All-American forward Angel Reese to just 3 of 15 shooting from the field and limited her to a season-low 13 points, but it wasn’t enough.
Miami struggled offensively throughout the night, enduring multiple scoreless stretches.
The Hurricanes finished the game shooting just 18 of 57 from the field and weren’t able to connect on any of their 15 attempts from 3-point range.
And while LSU had its offensive struggles too – the Tigers were just 19 of 63 from the field – it did just enough to build a double-digit lead late in the third quarter that proved too much for Miami to overcome.
“I’m so impressed with the job that [LSU head coach] Kim [Mulkey’s] done in two years there and revamping this roster…I think we both coached really hard…We got them to play not as well as they can and they still beat us,” Meier said. “You have to tip your hat to them.”
Meier continued, “I do think what we’ve done this run has shown what Miami basketball is all about. I think we’ve shown absolutely raw emotion. No one steals our joy…You’re always going to see a joyful, intense team…I’m certainly not going to worry about the future. I think it looks pretty darn good.”
Megan Barnes – Miami Hurricanes Athletics contributed to this recap