Harden hits game-winner to advance Miami WBB to first Sweet 16 since 1992

Miami celebrates after defeating Indiana to advance to its first Sweet 16 under head coach Katie Meier on March 21, 2023. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

No. 1 seeds are as ironclad a lock as you can get in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. One-seeds almost never go down before the Sweet 16. Only two others have done so since 2009. The Indiana Hoosiers were a No. 1 seed and playing on their home court against ninth-seeded Miami. Indiana was also getting its star player back in All-American Mackenzie Holmes after she missed the Hoosiers’ tournament debut.

This didn’t matter, as the ‘Canes knocked off the Hoosiers, 70-68, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time under head coach Katie Meier.

Indiana cut Miami’s lead down to just one by the end of the third quarter and kept the pressure on UM the whole second half. Indiana’s star freshman, Yardon Garzon, hit two triples at the end of the game to keep the score tied and force Miami to make a play with 6.6 seconds left.

Who did Miami look to make this place?

None other than its veteran leader.

Destiny Harden delivered in the clutch, scoring the game-winning basket with just over three seconds to play. Harden was a key player on both sides of the ball. She was high-motor, physical and energetic all game on a night where she made some personal history by joining the 1,000-point club.

“A very very good basketball player that has ice in her veins and she hit a heck of a shot,” head coach Katie Meier said.

Lola Pendande was the leader on the scoreboard for the Canes, as her 19 points paced all Miami players. Haley Cavinder was a bit quiet on the scoring front, but hit a big 3-pointer late and was the team’s leading rebounder with eight boards.

They all helped Miami build up a 14-point lead during the early parts of the contest. Trailing 41-29 at halftime, Indiana made its run in the second half.

“They are tough,” Meier said. “There was no panic.”

The Hoosiers were led by senior Grace Berger, who had 17 points, as well as Holmes, who had a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds.

Despite turning the ball over 13 times and only scoring eight points in the third quarter, Miami was able to record some other impressive statistics. It shot over 55% from deep, including a trio of 3-pointers from Destiny Harden early in the game. Miami was the more physical team and out-rebounded the Hoosiers by six.

The Hurricanes have a chance at making history with a duel against fourth-seeded Villanova on Thursday. With a win, Miami would advance to its first-ever Elite Eight.