Miami coach Katie Meier can be forgiven for not following her own advice.
“I always tell my team to act like you’ve been there before. But we hadn’t,” Meier said, still giddy from the Hurricanes’ upset of top-seeded Indiana. “We kind of acted foolish and really happy and enjoyed it. That was a really big moment for us, and it was fun.”
Meier and Miami have earned the right to celebrate. This is the Hurricanes’ first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1992. They handed Indiana its first loss at home this season. They completed a school sweep of the Hoosiers in the second round.
And they did just six quarters after they were in danger of being run out of the NCAA Tournament.
Miami trailed Oklahoma State by 17 at halftime of its first-round game. When Meier went back to the locker room, she didn’t have the chance to say anything because her players told her they were figuring it out.
Follow the madness: Latest Women’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules
Figure it out, they did. The Hurricanes rallied for a one-point win over Oklahoma State, then came out hot against Indiana and never let up. Miami never trailed in the game, and didn’t falter even when Yarden Garzon drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game with seven seconds left.
After a timeout, Miami got the ball to Destiny Harden in the paint and she squared up for the short jumper. When it swished through, Meier and the Hurricanes couldn’t contain themselves. As her players celebrated, Meier thanked her coaches.
“And then I looked around for anyone that wanted to hug me,” she said.
“This place, the basketball that’s been played in this (arena) — it’s emotional,” Meier said. “Basketball runs deep in my family. To beat them here, with that great crowd, and to mean so much to my team, to be able to do that is incredible.”
Women’s NCAA Tournament:Results, schedule, games, times, TV
Here are the other winners and losers from Day 4 of the women’s NCAA Tournament:
Louisville made its sixth consecutive Sweet 16, the longest active streak after UConn and South Carolina. Making the streak more impressive is there was a time this season when it seemed improbable.
“I said at our tip-off luncheon, ‘This is going to be a team that’s going to take some time, OK. You’ve got to be patient with us,’” coach Jeff Walz said. “And we have several of our fans out there that weren’t. ‘Oh, it’s a bad year, it’s a bad year.’ Well, if it’s a bad year, I’d hate to see what a really bad year looks like. Because I don’t think it’s too bad, because it’s not over yet.”
A Final Four team last year, the Cardinals got off to a rough start, losing two of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November. After an easy, and expected, win over Longwood, Louisville lost consecutive games by double digits to Ohio State — the Buckeyes were in the top 5 at the time — and unranked Middle Tennessee State.
By Christmas, Louisville was out of the Top 25, never to return the rest of the season. The Cardinals finished the regular season 21-10 after losing two of their last four to Notre Dame.
But Louisville has gotten hot at the right time. It beat regular-season ACC champ Notre Dame in the semifinals of the conference tournament before losing to Virginia Tech, which is one of two No. 1 seeds remaining.
Because of its rough season, Louisville was seeded fifth, which meant it had to play its first- and second-round games on the road. No matter. The Cardinals held off Drake on Saturday, then walloped fourth-seeded Texas on its home court to advance to the Sweet 16 and keep its streak alive.
“We have figured something out. I’m not saying we have all the answers because we don’t,” Walz said. “But we have figured out how to get our kids to play the best when it matters.”
There will be four Black coaches in the Sweet 16, a notable stat in a profession that has long struggled with diversity.
Dawn Staley of South Carolina, Kenny Brooks of Virginia Tech, Niele Ivey of Notre Dame and Yolett McPhee-McCuin all have led their teams to the Sweet 16. Staley and Brooks coach top-seeded teams, while McPhee-McCuin’s Ole Miss squad sent Stanford home in the second round for the first time since 2007. Ivey’s team has kept winning despite losing two of their starters.
Only two Black coaches, Staley and Carolyn Peck, have won national championships, and Staley has made it a priority to champion other coaches of color in the profession. She famously sent pieces of the net from South Carolina’s first title to Black women coaches ahead of last season, and used some of her time at the Final Four last year to point out how hard it is for Black men to get a shot.
“Maybe 10 years ago, there was an influx of hiring — the thing was to hire Black women. I think we’re back at that place now where Black women are on the top tier of ADs wanting a Black coach to head their — a female Black coach. Male Black coaches, they don’t have a shot. So that’s my next thing,” Staley said. “But it’s more popular right now to hire a Black coach.”
It’s one thing for athletic directors to hire Black coaches, however, and another for those coaches to win on the biggest stage where everyone, in and outside the game, can see it.
“I just feel like Black female coaches have been the voiceless,” Staley said last year.
The change that many predicted would “ruin college sports” seems to be working out just fine for the Miami Hurricanes.
The U got some of the most intriguing transfers last offseason with the addition of the twins, who played their first three years at Fresno State and were drawn to Miami because of NIL money. (Haley and Hanna reportedly earn up to seven figures in a variety of NIL deals.) Some wondered if they were good enough to play in the Power 5.
Well, they are. Haley in particular was huge in Monday’s upset over No. 1 Indiana, scoring nine points (including two clutch free throws with 12.7 seconds left), snagging eight rebounds, blocking one shot and grabbing one steal. Her play helped send the Hurricanes to their first Sweet 16 since 1992, long before the twins were born.
Maybe the transfer portal isn’t as bad as coaches make it out to be.
It was a good day for players who started at one school before moving to another, with multiple transfers coming up big when their (current) team needed it most. A sampling:
- Taylor Mikesell, who started at Maryland, transferred to Oregon and finally landed at Ohio State, finished with 17 points, three assists and two steals for the Buckeyes.
- Rickea Jackson, the SEC’s leading scorer at Mississippi State last year, has been tough for Tennessee all season, and on Monday scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.
- Louisville had multiple transfers who made an impact, including former Florida State guard Morgan Jones (10 points, six rebounds) and senior forward Lix Dison, who left Georgia Tech after her freshman year and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win over Texas.
There were outstanding performances from transfers who lost, too. Duke guard Celeste Taylor, who came to Durham from Texas, came incredibly close to a quadruple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and 10 steals.
It was fun while it lasted.
There won’t be any double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16 after Florida Gulf Coast and Toledo, both No. 12 seeds, lost Monday. Tenth-seeded Georgia, the only other double-digit seed to win in the first round, lost Sunday.
The lowest seed left in the tournament is No. 9 Miami.
They’re going to slap a three-second delay on both NCAA tournaments next year after several players used expletives in postgame interviews.
Miami’s Destiny Harden was the latest. Asked by the ESPN2 crew to describe her game-winning shot that knocked out No. 1 seed Indiana, Harden credited Hurricanes assistant coach Fitzroy Anthony.
“He told me face up and hit the (expletive) shot — excuse my language,” Harden said.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme used the same word after his team’s woin Sunday night. After Florida Atlantic won to reach the Sweet 16, Johnell Davis told Jamie Ehrdahl that, “I’ve been trying to prove this (expletive) since Day 1 … oh no.”
Ehrdahl responded with the quote of the tournament.
“That’s alright,” she said, “we’re on TruTV, man.”