Miami’s full-court press was effective Saturday against South Dakota State, but it had one major flaw — the Hurricanes couldn’t set it up if they weren’t making shots first.
No. 5 seed Hurricanes made just two field goals in the third quarter as the 12th-seeded Jackrabbits made a game-changing run, and SDSU held on for a 74-71 upset win in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament at Stanford University’s Maples Pavilion.
SDSU (26-6) overcame UM’s 24-4 edge in points off turnovers by shooting 8 of 18 from behind the arc and outrebounding the Hurricanes 50-39.
UM (24-9) fell to 5-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 3-5 over the last six seasons. SDSU recorded its second win in its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Jackrabbits took the lead for good 48 seconds into the second half and led by as many as 11 with 8:20 remaining. UM got within three when junior Adrienne Motley made her first free throw with two seconds left, but after she missed the second free throw intentionally, UM couldn’t regain possession and attempt a tying shot.
A first-team All-ACC guard, Motley finished with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, but UM’s other four starters combined for 11 points and were 5 for 30 from the field.
With the starters struggling, UM relied on two freshmen reserves from the Netherlands, Laura Cornelius (18 points on 7 of 11 shooting) and Emese Hof (17 points, nine rebounds, four blocks).
Neither team led by more than five in a tightly contested first half. SDSU matched its biggest lead at 34-30 with 2:49 left in the second quarter, but Miami went to a full-court press that flustered the Jackrabbits.
SDSU turned it over four times in 88 seconds and the Hurricanes scored nine straight points to take its largest lead, 39-34.
SDSU had only attempted one shot in a span of 2:46 because of UM’s pressure, but Madison Guebert hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 39-37 at the half, and Guebert hit another three to give the Jackrabbits the lead to start the third quarter.
Miami couldn’t match Guebert’s accuracy out of the locker room. The Hurricanes missed their first 12 shots and committed three turnovers in the first seven minutes of the third quarter as SDSU went up 48-40.
“We tried to get out here as early as we could to make sure we were fresh, but the start of the second half was such a flat performance for us,” UM coach Katie Meier said. “Credit them. They were a lot sharper, they had a lot more bounce in their step. I think halftime just reminded us that we were tired, maybe.”
UM had the longest trip of any program in the 64-team field and arrived in California after midnight Wednesday.
The Hurricanes missed seven layups and finished 2 of 17 from the field in the third quarter as they were outscored 18-9.
The Jackrabbits committed six turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and Miami made four straight baskets, mostly on open looks in transition, to get within 63-59 with 5:20 to play. But the Hurricanes could never complete the comeback.
If there’s any consolation to the loss, UM graduates just one player — starting guard Michelle Woods (team-high five assists), who became the first female Hurricane to appear in four NCAA Tournaments.
“We’ll learn from this,” Meier said. “And be a heckuva lot better given the next opportunity that we get.”