NCAA tournament

Miami Upsets Villanova to Advance to First Elite 8 in Women's Bracket

The Hurricanes built a 21-point lead and held on late to reach the Elite 8 for the first time in program history

Destiny Harden

A historic dance continues for The U.

The University of Miami women's basketball team advanced to its first Elite 8 in program history after the No. 9 Hurricanes upset No. 4 Villanova 70-65 on Friday.

The road to the Elite Eight is never an easy one, particularly for a team that has never been there. But the Hurricanes have overcome each obstacle the bracket has presented in this year's NCAA Tournament. They overcame a 17-point deficit against Oklahoma State in the first round, they stunned No. 1 Indiana on a late jumper by Destiny Harden in the round of 32 and they protected a big lead while facing the nation's leading scorer in Villanova's Maddy Siegrist.

And now, for the first time, they're one of eight teams left standing. 

The Hurricanes' 21-point third-quarter lead turned into a late deficit before Jasmyne Roberts capped a career-high 26-point performance with a go-ahead three-point play that gave Miami a 67-65 lead with 38.8 seconds left.

The Hurricanes advance to face the winner of No. 2 Utah and No. 3 LSU on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

The game began with Harden picking up where she left off during her heroics against Indiana, scoring seven points in the first quarter to help give Miami a 25-19 lead over Villanova.

A three-point play by Ja'Leah Williams and putback by Harden increased the Miami lead to 40-29 with three minutes remaining in the half. Haley Cavinder later capped a 11-0 Miami run with a putback for a 17-point advantage, the Hurricanes' largest lead of the half.

The lead reached as many as 21 after Roberts opened the second half with a three-point play that sparked a 7-0 run for a 54-33 advantage.

Villanova then closed the third on a 14-0 run, with Siegrist hitting a jumper, stealing the ball and converting a three-point play to cut the Miami lead to 57-51 with 1:41 remaining in the quarter.

Roberts opened the fourth with a pull-up jumper for Miami's first points in six minutes.

Villanova made it a one-possession game when Brooke Mullin hit a three with 7:15 remaining to pull the Wildcats within 59-56. Siegrist followed with a layup to cut the deficit to one, extending a 21-2 Villanova run.

Siegrist, the nation’s leading scorer who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, then gave Villanova the lead by hitting a pair of free throws with 5:31 remaining to put the Wildcats in front for the first time since midway through the first quarter. 

The lead was short-lived as Harden (15 points, nine rebounds) answered with a three to put Miami up 62-60. Villanova regained the lead on a putback by Christina Dalce that made it 63-62 with 3:21 to go. Roberts followed with a pair of free throws to put Miami in front at 64-63 with 2:20 left.

The back-and-forth continued as Lucy Olsen drove the lane and banked in a floater to give Villanova a 65-64 lead with 49 seconds left. Roberts grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss by Harden and converted a putback plus the foul to give Miami a 67-65 lead with 38.8 seconds to go.

After Siegrist missed a turnaround out of the post, Haley Cavinder hit one of two free throws to increase the Miami lead to three with 23.1 seconds left. Roberts then sealed the win with two more free throws with 11.1 seconds left, punching Miami’s first ticket to the Elite 8.

They soon might get some more South Beach dancing partners as the fifth-seeded University of Miami men's basketball team looks to advance to the Elite 8 when they face No. 1 Houston on Friday night.

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