CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Keyona Hayes made her move, and Taylor Gradinjan hit the floor.
No upset, either.
Hayes scored 16 points, including the go-ahead basket inside with 1.5 seconds remaining when she simply overpowered Gradinjan, and fourth-seeded Miami rallied to beat 13th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast 62-60 in an NCAA Tournament first-round game Saturday.
The Hurricanes (24-8) wasted a 13-point lead and found themselves trailing twice in the final 2 minutes, but rallied and earned the right to play Monday night at home against Quinnipiac — a 68-65 upset winner over Marquette earlier in the day — with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen awaiting the winner.
“We’re still alive,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “And we’re very excited.”
They won, with a flair for some drama. Gradinjan’s 3-pointer for FGCU with 8.6 seconds left tied the game at 60. Miami advanced the ball out of a timeout, and the ball went to Hayes — who bulled her way in and scored on a post-up.
“A good no-call,” Hayes said.
FGCU (26-9) set up a play and had China Dow throw an inbounds pass from in front of the Eagles’ bench toward the basket, and Miami’s Keyanna Harris knocked the ball out of Jordin Alexander’s reach as time expired. The Eagles argued there was contact, but no foul was called — just like on the block-charge at the other end — and Miami advanced.
“Usually I watch the game on the way home,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “I may wait a couple days. … I don’t think you can ever blame a call or two calls. There’s 1,000 plays within a game.”
Emese Hof scored 14 points for the Hurricanes, who won despite shooting 1 for 14 from 3-point range and getting only four points from top scorer Adrienne Motley before she fouled out.
Alexander scored 11 points, while Dow and Rosemarie Julien each scored 10 for FGCU.
A 3-pointer from Julien tied it at 51 with 4:22 remaining, but she fouled out a half-minute later on a call away from the basket. And from there, it was a wild back and forth with the outcome not decided until the final buzzer.
Dow scored with 1:13 left to give FGCU its last lead. Hof’s three-point play with 49.4 seconds remaining put Miami back up by two, and Gradinjan’s 3 tied the game for the fifth time.
The last basket was Hayes simply being too much.
“That’s what the refs thought it was,” said Gradinjan, her eyes and face still red 20 minutes after the final buzzer. “You’ve got to deal with it.”
FGCU started 1 for 17 from 3-point range, then got a spark late in the third.
After scoring 30 points in 28 minutes, the Eagles scored five in five seconds. Jess Cattani’s 3-pointer dropped simultaneous to a foul being called on Hof under the basket. That gave FGCU another possession, and Dow’s basket off the inbounds got the Eagles within 39-35. The lead for Miami was still four going into the fourth.
“We just had the will to win,” Miami guard Jessica Thomas said, “and didn’t want to take no for an answer.”
Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles didn’t take their first free throw until 9:31 remained in the game. Miami had taken 15 to that point. FGCU finished 3 for 6 from the line, while Miami went 17 for 20. … FGCU entered the NCAA Tournament as one of five Division I schools to have both its men’s and women’s teams win at least 25 games this season. … FGCU was 9 for 34 from 3-point land.
Miami: The Hurricanes held a 41-26 rebounding edge and a 12-2 edge in second-chance points. … Miami shot 70 percent (7-10) in the fourth quarter, and 36 percent (15-42) in the first three. … Hayes and Hof were a combined 12 for 20 from the field.
The game was nearly 12 minutes old before any player had more than one basket. Miami led 14-13 — seven players with two points — before Laura Cornelius had a steal and layup for her second score of the day with 8:25 left in the second quarter. FGCU had six players in the scoring column to that point, five with two points and Gradinjan with three.
FGCU has been in a national postseason tournament in each of the last 12 seasons, including the last 10 at Division I. Miami has been in either the NCAAs or the WNIT in each of the last eight seasons.
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