When the final buzzer sounded on No. 9 Miami’s win over No. 1 Indiana, in all the frenetic, inchoate joy of a team celebrating a tremendous upset, Destiny Harden found her coach, Katie Meier.
She blurted out the first sentence that came to mind: I bet you’re so mad at me for missing those free throws.
“Well, yeah,” Meier said. “But I can be mad at you tomorrow.”
It was true: Harden missed two free throws with 20 seconds to play while Miami was clinging to a one-point lead. But her coaches trusted her to redeem herself (and then some). Soon, the game was tied, Miami ball, and the Hurricanes called a timeout to draw up their final play. There were six seconds on the clock. Harden didn’t know what her coaches were going to call: She is Miami’s second-leading scorer, behind star transfer Haley Cavinder, but forward Lola Pedande led the team in points Monday, and not far behind was speedy guard Jasmyne Roberts. “Everybody could have gotten that game-winning shot,” Harden said. But the coaching staff knew who they wanted to go to the basket here.
They wanted Harden, a graduate student guard and veteran leader, the same player they trusted to take the winning shot in last year’s ACC tournament comeback win over Louisville. They knew Harden remembered every second of that play from a year ago—a “competitive memory,” Meier called it. Drive to the basket. Step through. Jumper. Now, they wanted her to repeat it.
Or as associate head coach Fitzroy Anthony put it to Harden:
“Face up and win the f---ing game.”
“We went to a very, very good basketball player who has ice in her veins,” Meier said. “And she hit a heck of a shot.”
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Miami sealed a 70–68 win against one of the best teams in the country. The Hurricanes scored first and never trailed—Indiana found itself in a hole early, unable to establish any kind of scoring rhythm in the first half, and tied the game only in its closing minutes. The Hoosiers then had multiple opportunities to go ahead. But despite clear looks, they simply could not make it happen.
“Give Miami credit,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “They came out, we knew they were going to be physical, they got up in us, they made us uncomfortable. I didn't think we looked like we had any good rhythm, pace, flow to what we were trying to do offensively.”
The upset comes just after No. 8 Ole Miss knocked off No. 1 Stanford on Sunday. It is the first time in 25 years that two No. 1 seeds have been eliminated before the Sweet 16 in the women’s tournament.
Miami shot nearly 60% from the field in the first half. It was the kind of shooting performance that felt impossible to keep up—and, naturally, it began to run cold in the third quarter. But the Hurricanes flustered the Hoosiers early and built a strong enough lead to withstand their later lapses.
Indiana’s biggest contributor this year, Mackenzie Holmes, missed the team’s first tournament game with a sore knee. But she was ready for Monday and put up a heroic effort—leading all scorers with 22 and all rebounders with nine. Yet strong contributions from Holmes and teammate Grace Berger were not enough to save Indiana from this kind of performance by Miami.
“Indiana is a very efficient team on the offensive end,” Pedande said. “We've got to continue to disrupt for any chance at winning the game. We just stayed composed offensively and defensively and never gave up on the game plan.”
It is Miami’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1992.
“I always tell my team, Act like you’ve been there before,” Meier said. “But we haven’t… That was a really big moment for us, and it was fun, and it was time to just let the pure joy spill out and enjoy it.”
There would be plenty of time later for, say, any frustration over missed free throws.