The 4-seed Miami Hurricanes women were unable to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament as they fell to the 5-seed Arizona State 57-55 Sunday afternoon in the Watsco Center. In a game filled with runs, there were only 5 lead changes, yet the outcome was decided in the final seconds as ASU’s Robbi Ryan knocked down the go-ahead free throws with only 5 seconds left to push the Sun Devils through to a matchup against either 1-seed Mississippi State or 9 seed Clemson.
Arizona State was the better team in the first quarter, as the Canes struggled to convert their opportunities on the offensive end, and the Sun Devils making over 50% of their shots from the floor en route to a 18-11 advantage. The second quarter saw a reversal of both team’s fortunes, as the Canes knocked down 8 of 14 shots to outscore the Sun Devils 17-8 in the frame to enter halftime up 28-26.
In the Canes’ first round win over Florida Gulf Coast, the frontcourt paved the way to victory, with both Beatrice Mompremier and Emese Hof posting double-doubles. On Sunday, however, the frontcourt was limited on the offensive end by ASU’s defensive scheme, with Hof and Mompremier scoring 6 points apiece on combined 5 of 17 shooting. While Mompremier still made her presence felt with a career-high 22 rebounds, Miami’s backcourt put them in a position to win against the Sun Devils. Laura Cornelius led the Canes with 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and Mykea Gray added 13 points of her own.
The second half began with a 6-0 Miami run to extend their lead to 8. which would be the largest lead for either team the remainder of the game. After starting the game hot, the Sun Devils shots generally stopped falling, although some timely 3-pointers allowed them to stick around. At the end of the third quarter, Miami held a 43-38 advantage and looked poised to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 1992.
The Sun Devils regrouped in the final period to fight their way back into the game, retaking the lead with just over 4 minutes remaining. That would be the final lead change of the contest, although Miami was able to tie the game at 55 on a Laura Cornelius layup with 1:28 left. Both teams failed to hit a go-ahead shot on the next 4 possessions, leaving Miami with the ball and only 10 seconds left. Despite coming out of a timeout, the Canes were unable to successfully inbound the ball, turning it over to ASU guard Robbi Ryan, who would then be fouled by Emese Hof during a layup attempt with 5 seconds to go. Ryan made both free throws, and Miami was unable to make up the difference as Hof’s last-ditch effort rimmed out as time expired.
Arizona State used a well-balanced effort to continue their season, as forward Jamie Ruden led the team with only 10 points, but 6 different players pitched in between 6 and 10 points. The bench outscored the starters 29-28, and the Sun Devils hit 8 shots from deep versus just 2 for the Canes.
Coach Katie Meier and the Canes women finish their season with a 25-9 record. With only 1 starter graduating, Miami should still be contenders next season.