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Utah's Dasia Young falls tio the floor as LSU's Alexis Morris dribbles the ball in the background during the second half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game of the women's NCAA Tournament in Greenville, S.C. LSU won 66-63 on March 24, 2023.The Canadian Press

Jasmyne Roberts scored a career-high 26 points – including a stickback for the go-ahead, three-point play with 38.8 seconds left – to help Miami overcome blowing a 21-point lead and beat Villanova 70-65 on Friday for its first trip to the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The ninth-seeded Hurricanes (22-12) hung on down the stretch after Villanova made its push back behind the latest big-scoring effort from All-American Maddy Siegrist.

When it was over, long-time coach Katie Meier turned and started jumping to hug her staff, while players and cheerleaders sprinted to midcourt to celebrate. Meier soon made her way to the sideline near a vocal set of Hurricanes fans and gave two thumbs-up amid the cheering, while Roberts stayed locked in a firm and emotional embrace with teammate Ja’Leah Williams.

Miami had reached the Sweet 16 only once before, in 1992. Now the Hurricanes will play Sunday for the Greenville Region 2 title against third-seeded LSU. No. 3 LSU beat No. 2 Utah 66-63.

Siegrist, the country’s scoring leader, had 31 points, 13 rebounds and five steals for fourth-seeded Villanova (30-7). It marked her third 30-point outing in as many tournament games, pushing her to the No. 2 single-season scoring total in Division I history.

Yet it wasn’t enough down the stretch, with Siegrist coming up empty in a couple of key moments late. First came when she posted up Destiny Harden inside, but a quality look on a turnaround hit the backboard before coming off the rim with her team down just 67-65.

Moments later, after a Miami free throw, Siegrist missed wildly from the other side of the lane as Villanova had a chance to extend the game. Instead, Miami secured the rebound, and Roberts hit the clinching free throws with 11.1 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

Consider it the latest entry in a wild NCAA novel for the Hurricanes. They first rallied from 17 down to beat Oklahoma State. Then Harden hit the late shot to win at 1-seed Indiana and get them back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 31 years.

Now they have a chance to play for – and celebrate – a whole lot more.

LSU 66, Utah 63

GREENVILLE, S.C. – LaDazhia Williams was determined to extend her career. Thanks to her best game of the season, her LSU teammates will get to keep playing, too.

“I’m not ready to home,” she said. “We already know where we want to go.”

Williams and the third-seeded Tigers reached the Elite Eight for the first time in 15 years, holding off No. 2 seed Utah 66-63 on Friday night.

Williams had a season-high 24 points to boost LSU (31-2).

Alexis Morris, another fifth-year transfer like Williams, had 15 points. Her two foul shots with 10 seconds left put LSU ahead for good, 64-63. She later made two more free throws.

“We’re just hungry right now,” Morris said. “I know we’re fuelled up and we’re fired up. We’re one game away from going to the Final Four.”

Angel Reese added 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 31st double double of the season.

Coach Kim Mulkey’s Tigers can reach their first Final Four since 2008 on Sunday night when they face No. 9 seed Miami to close the Greenville 2 Regional. The Hurricanes overcame fourth-seeded Villanova and the nation’s leading scorer Maddy Siegrist 70-65 earlier at the Greenville 2 Regional.

“I think we fought hard all four quarters,” Reese said. “We’ve been through so much from the beginning to the end, so I’m just super happy for this team.”

Iowa 87, Colorado 77

SEATTLE – Caitlin Clark felt it was all happening a little too quick and on the stage of playing in a regional semi-final, Iowa’s star needed to slow down for a change.

“I felt like I was playing a little frantic. I felt like I was rushed on offence,” Clark said.

In this case, slowing down led to a big second half from Clark and the Hawkeyes.

Clark scored 31 points, 18 coming in the second half, and No. 2 seed Iowa shook disappointments the past two seasons and reached the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament with an 87-77 win over Colorado in the Seattle 4 Regional semi-finals on Friday night.

After two straight tournaments where Clark’s season ended in the round of 16 and the round of 32, the Hawkeyes will play for a chance at just the second Final Four berth in school history on Sunday.

“Anytime you get to play basketball for this long, it’s really special. None of us want this to end,” Iowa’s Monika Czinano said.

Clark was the catalyst for Iowa’s big second half, and the first-team All-American finished 11 of 22 shooting with four 3-pointers and eight assists. It was her 11th game this season scoring at least 30 points.

But she had plenty of help, especially after Clark sat a chunk of the first half after picking up two fouls.

Louisville 72, Mississippi 62

SEATTLE – Hailey Van Lith put on a show in her home state to get Louisville back to a familiar place – the Elite Eight.

Van Lith scored 21 points to help the fifth-seeded Cardinals beat No. 8 seed Mississippi 72-62 on Friday night and advance to the final of the Seattle 4 Region.

“It was amazing to have friends and family in the whole state out cheering for us,” Van Lith said. “I’m a very focused player, there were no distractions before the game. After the game, I kissed all the babies and hugged all the people. After business was done, I celebrated.”

The Cardinals (26-11) will face second-seed Iowa on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four. The Hawkeyes beat Colorado 87-77, behind the play of Caitlin Clark.

It’s the fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament that Louisville has gotten this far, one of the few teams to accomplish the feat.

“It’s hard to continue to get to where we are and win,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “You have to enjoy it. It’s too short not to enjoy these types of moments.”

Expectations were high for the Cardinals under Walz to start the season as the team was ranked seventh in The Associated Press’ pre-season Top 25 poll. With many new players, the Cardinals lost four out of six games in late November and early December.

Walz wasn’t concerned. The team started to get more comfortable on the court and made a run to the finals of the ACC Tournament, where they lost to Virginia Tech.

“We’ve been playing well for the last month and a half,” Walz said. “We’ll continue to roll and continue to play. We’re going to enjoy this tonight. I’m going to enjoy this. I’m going to the bar. Life’s too short.”