The University of Miami entered Monday night’s second-round NCAA women’s basketball tournament game with Gonzaga toting a national ranking of eight, a 26-5 record and a third-seed in the Kingston, R.I. regional.
Gonzaga had Kayla Standish, Haiden Palmer, Katelan Redmon and the McCarthey Athletic Center crowd.
It was enough.
For the second consecutive year, the Zags posted a home upset highly regarded second-round opponent, this one 65-54 over the Hurricanes before 5,824 boisterous, almost completely GU crowd.
Though the Hurricanes didn’t give up without a fight. After trailing by three at halftime, they crashed the offensive glass – they outrebounded GU 16-6 in the first eight minutes after halftime – and pulled into the lead, 44-43 on Shenise Johnson’s 19-foot jumper.
But Kelly Bowen, whose shot was off all night, came through 90 seconds later, nailing a 3-pointer from the right wing as the shot clock was running down, giving the Zags (28-5) a 48-46 lead they would never give back.
The shot triggered an 11-2 game-deciding run, with the trio of Palmer, Redmon and Standish supplying the other eight points.
The 56-48 lead – coming on Redmon’s 19-footer over Stefanie Yderstrom as the shot clock expired again – was too much for Miami, despite the Zags missing five free throws in the final 74 seconds.
Johnson, a 5-foot-11 guard from New York, scored 13 of her game-high 21 points after halftime, many coming after her five offensive rebounds. She finished with 13 total boards.
But Johnson, 6-6 Shawnice Wilson, weren’t enough to hold off a three-pronged Zag offense.
Seniors Standish (19 points and eight rebounds), Redmon (16 and eight) and sophomore Palmer (15 and eight) proved to be too much for the Hurricanes.
That and the deafening wall of sound supplied by the home fans the Zags saluted at center court afterward.
Gonzaga moves on to face Kentucky, a 65-62 winner over Green Bay, in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday in Kingston, R.I.
Gonzaga was appearing in a second-round game for the fourth consecutive season, trying to build on last year’s Elite Eight appearance.
Wilson faced Gonzaga in 2009 in a second-round game in Seattle. She was playing for the University of Pittsburgh then, though her game was similar.
She overpowered the smaller GU posts, scoring 10 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking four shots in just 14 minutes of Pitt’s 65-60 win.
She only played five minutes in the first half of this one, picking up her second foul and sitting the final 15 minutes before intermission. After halftime she was more of a presence on both ends of the court, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds.
But a big part of the victory had to go to the crowd. Other than the Miami band and cheerleaders, no one in the building could be heard cheering for the Hurricanes.
The overpowering noise obscured referees’ whistles and seem to discombobulate the Hurricanes on the offensive end. The most obvious time came near the end of the first half and GU nursing what would be the halftime edge of 30-27.
Gonzaga zoned a possession in front of its bench – a rare occurrence in the opening half ¬– and Miami took time to recognize it. Then the Hurricanes seemed to get lost in the noise, losing track of the shot clock and not even putting up an attempt – though the buzzer was almost impossible to hear.
The Zags’ halftime lead might have been more if they could have connected on their 3-point attempts. Gonzaga took nine in the first half and hit just two – both by Palmer. In contrast, the Bulldogs hit half of their 24 attempts inside.
For the night, Gonzaga shot 43 percent from the floor, but only 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. Miami was even worse from long range, hitting just 1 of 12 attempts while shooting 32.8 percent overall.
The Hurricanes, propelled by that early second-half attack, won the battle of the boards 43-40.
But it didn’t matter.