The San Juan Daily Star
Another No. 1 gone, as Indiana loses to Miami
By Oskar García
For the first time since 1998, the Sweet 16 in the women’s NCAA Tournament will be played without two of its No. 1 seeds.
No. 9 seed Miami, after blitzing Indiana early then holding on for dear life during an onslaught led by Mackenzie Holmes, will instead head to the tournament’s second weekend for the first time since 1992, two years before the bracket-defining expansion that built up the tournament to 64 teams.
Miami’s Destiny Harden shook off a defender with an up-and-under move to gain enough space for a bucket inside with four seconds left for the 70-68 win on Monday at Bloomington Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. Her basket came moments after Indiana’s Yarden Garzon had tied the game with a step-back 3-pointer, her second tying 3 in the final minute.
A final, panicked attempt by the Hoosiers to avoid missing the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019 ended with the ball being stripped near the top of the key. That sent the Hurricanes across the floor to hug each other in triumph, touching off a celebration that carried into the locker room and resonated throughout a sport in which home-court advantage has often been a major factor early in the tournament.
“It stings. It hurts. But it should if you’re competitors and it means anything to you,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. She added: “Like I told them, if they didn’t have tears and they weren’t emotional, then I would wonder what all the hard work was for.”
Indiana, slated behind only reigning champion South Carolina when the 68-team field for the tournament was revealed, tied the game at 60 with three minutes left after building up most of its comeback in the third quarter. That was when Holmes, the leading scorer this season for the Hoosiers, took over with a series of driving layups and tough shots that reversed a frustrating first half in which she scored only 4 points.
Indiana fell into its deep hole almost purely because of its poor shooting, with Holmes missing seven of her first nine shots. Miami started hot and led 41-29 at halftime.
“We came into this game saying that we were down 30,” Harden told ESPN after the game, adding: “We came into this game knowing that we had to play defense to win.”
After facing Holmes, Miami will have another big shooter to defend in its Sweet 16 matchup Friday, with Villanova boasting Maddy Siegrist, the top scorer in Division I.
Indiana was stunned on its home floor one night after Stanford lost in similar fashion 54-49 to Mississippi, giving the tournament a highly unusual pair of No. 1s ousted during the first weekend.
Before this season, the last time a No. 1 seed missed the Sweet 16 in the women’s tournament was in 2009, when Duke lost to Michigan State in the second round. It also happened in 2006, when Ohio State lost to Boston College, and 1998, when Texas Tech lost in the second round and Stanford lost in the first, to No. 16-seeded Harvard.
UConn erased an early deficit to advance again.
In a physical game that repeatedly sent players scrambling to the floor for the ball, Connecticut beat Baylor 77-58 to move on to the Sweet 16, its 30th such appearance in program history.
UConn quickly erased a 6-point first-quarter deficit as Nika Mühl regularly drove the floor to set up Azzi Fudd, who finished with 22 points, and Aaliyah Edwards, who scored 19.
UConn appeared to be in hot water in the third when Edwards had to sit with her fourth foul. Jaden Owens, dancing nimbly from one side of the paint to the other, tied the game for Baylor with five minutes left in the quarter, and the Bears kept things close for a time, with Ja’Mee Asberry finding openings and leading her team with 15 points.
But the Bears began to lose steam, and UConn’s confident core pounced to break away for a rout. The Huskies had built up their lead to 12 going into the fourth.
“If we could have ended the game at 25 minutes in, I think it was a really, really good battle,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said. “Obviously they won the battle of the paint.”
Part of that was spurred by Aubrey Griffin, who sparked the Huskies with 12 rebounds in 19 minutes. UConn outscored Baylor 36-12 in the paint.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he worried during the first half that his team was in “big trouble” on defense. But by the second half, he added, “there was never a time I didn’t think we were going to win the game.”
The Huskies played before a sellout crowd at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion that included former UConn great Maya Moore and her husband, Jonathan Irons.
UConn’s fans had plenty to celebrate — the team made its latest Sweet 16 in a long string of them. The Huskies haven’t missed this stage of the tournament since 1993, two years before the team won its first national championship under Auriemma.
With UConn’s men’s also in its Sweet 16, both teams advanced to their regionals together for the first time since 2014. The men will play Arkansas on Thursday, and the women will play Ohio State on Saturday.
— REMY TUMIN
No. 6 seed Colorado overcame Duke in overtime.
It took an extra five minutes, but No. 6 seed Colorado became the latest underdog to advance to the Sweet 16, with a 61-53 overtime win against No. 3 seed Duke.
Duke scored the first point of overtime on a free throw by Shayeann Day-Wilson, but Colorado scored the next 7, including two layups from Aaronette Vonleh, and held the Blue Devils to just two more free throws to end the game.
The Buffaloes had raced to a 10-point lead after the first quarter before Duke clawed back on its home court. But neither team could pull away in the fourth, shooting a combined 8 for 24, and the game went to overtime tied at 50.
Each team had a chance to end the game in regulation. When Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod hit the game-tying layup with 34 seconds left, she was fouled but couldn’t convert the free throw. Duke’s Day-Wilson then missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left.
“We’ve worked so hard to get here, put Colorado back on the map,” Sherrod said on ESPN after the game. As she reflected on her decision to go to Colorado — her only offer from a Power 5 conference, she said — her teammates leaped toward her and shouted her name to playfully disrupt her interview.
— SARA ZIEGLER