March Madness: Miami women survive Villanova for program's 1st Elite Eight appearance
The Miami Hurricanes closed out a hard-fought battle for the program's first Elite Eight appearance in program history Friday in Greenville, South Carolina. The 70-65 upset victory was almost spoiled by Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist, who nearly led the Wildcats back from a 21-point deficit.
Jasmyne Roberts led Miami with a career-high 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists.
THE CANES ARE MOVING ON!!!! pic.twitter.com/Ch6fBSD0LD
— Hurricanes Women’s Basketball (@CanesWBB) March 24, 2023
Soon after Miami secured the program's first Sweet 16 appearance in 31 years, the team was tasked with figuring out how to shut down Siegrist, the nation's points leader and Villanova's all-time scoring leader for both men and women.
As Villanova won the tipoff, No. 9 seed Miami looked more than ready to defend its No. 4-seeded opponent.
Double-teaming Siegrist and staying fast on defense to secure rotations and deflections, Miami came out of the first quarter with a 25-19 lead. Going 10-for-16 from the field, Miami successfully inflicted damage on Villanova's defense in the paint.
In the second, Miami stayed aggressive and went into halftime up 46-33. The Hurricanes' first-half points total tied the most that Villanova allowed in a half this season.
Starting with a steal and layup from Roberts, Miami went on a 7-0 run to start the second half and eventually extended its lead to 21. Then, Villanova laid on the defensive pressure with a full-court press and went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter.
Part of the Wildcats' third-quarter tear saw back-to-back buckets from Siegrist, who made a jumper with an assist from Bella Runyan and then stole the ball as Miami attempted to pass it in-bounds before she made a quick layup.
Villanova ended the third quarter down, 57-51 to set up for an absolute battle in the fourth. Siegrist finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, and the Wildcats ended up taking the lead on a pair of Siegrist free throws that put them up 60-59 with 5:31 left in the game. But it wasn't enough to stop Miami.
With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Destiny Harden made a clutch 3 to put Miami back in the lead at 62-60.
Down 68-65, Villanova used its final timeout with 20 seconds to play. After a missed layup, Siegrist fouled Roberts. She made both of her free throws before Siegrist had one of Villanova's two missed 3-point attempts and time ran out in the Hurricanes' milestone victory.
After the win, NIL and social media stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder were congratulated with a phone call in the locker room by rapper Lil Wayne. Hanna recorded 2 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in the win and took to Twitter to share a screenshot from the postgame FaceTime call. Haley had 7 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal.
LIL WAYNE LUVS THE U @LilTunechi @CavinderHaley pic.twitter.com/5TlBZE1DRO
— Hanna Cavinder (@CavinderHanna) March 24, 2023
In true Cinderella fashion, the Hurricanes are now the third team in March Madness history to make the Elite Eight with 12 or more losses in the regular season.