GREENVILLE, S.C. - Behind a suffocating defensive performance, the LSU Women's Basketball team earned its first trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four in 15 years, defeating Miami (Fla.), 54-42, on Sunday evening at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
LSU (32-2) returns to the Women's Final Four for the first time since making five-straight appearances from 2004-08. The Tigers will face the winner of Monday's matchup in Seattle between No. 1 seed Virginia Tech and No. 3 seed Ohio State. The winners of Louisville vs. Iowa and South Carolina vs. Maryland will comprise the other national semifinal.
Friday's national semifinal will tip-off at either 6 or 8:30 p.m. CT from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Head Coach Kim Mulkey, a three-time national championship coach at Baylor (2005, 2012, 2019), advanced to the Women's Final Four for the fifth time in her 23-year career as a head coach.
Both semifinal games will be televised by ESPN, with Sunday's national championship game on ABC starting at 2:30 p.m. CT. LSU's games will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network including LSUsports.net/live and in the LSU Sports Mobile Apps.
LSU guard Alexis Morris led the Tigers with 21 points on 8-of-22 from the field and was the spark LSU needed after shooting just 21-percent in the opening quarter.
All-America forward Angel Reese made history once again with her 32nd double-double of the season, an SEC single-season record. She finished with 13 points, hauled in 18 rebounds, and added four assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
Miami's Jasmyne Roberts led all players with 22 points and also added seven boards. Miami didn't make a three pointer, as the Canes went 0-15. Aside from Roberts, no Canes player had more than four points, as her teammates combined for 8-of-37 shooting.
The first 12 minutes of the contest was a struggle offensively for both squads, which combined for 8-of-39 shooting in a 10-10 game. Morris scored the only field goals of the opening quarter for LSU and led her team with six points.
Reese, LSU's single-season record holder for free throws made and attempted, made 7-of-10 from the charity stripe midway through the second quarter to give LSU an 18-14 advantage.
After Miami tied the game at 18-18, consecutive baskets by LSU freshman forward Sa'Myah Smith and a fast-break layup by Morris forced a Miami timeout trailing 24-18 with 1:55 left in the half.
Led by Morris' 10 points and an 8-0 margin at the free-throw line, the Tigers maintained the six-point advantage at halftime, 26-20. Roberts nearly doubled her season average with 16 of the Hurricanes' 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting before halftime, as her teammates were 2-of-18 from the field.
After an 0-for-9 start, Reese's first field goal of the contest came less than a minute into the second half and gave LSU a 28-22 lead. Her second came about four minutes later and pushed the lead to 32-23, as Miami was held without a bucket for more than five minutes. Without a field goal in the final 4:36 of the quarter, LSU was able to extend its advantage at the line and led 38-27 with 10 minutes to play.
LSU continued to crush Miami on the defensive end of the court, as the Hurricanes missed nine-straight from the field and trailed 43-27 following Kateri Poole's three pointer with 7:18 to play. It was the only made three of the game for either team.
With a quick 8-0 run, quickly narrowed the deficit to 43-35 with 4:24 left in the fourth quarter. Reese picked up her fourth foul in a collision with Miami's Lashae Dwyer with 3:58 to play, sending Dwyer out of the game with an injury. Morris then broke the Tigers' four-minute scoring drought with a layup, Reese added a short jumper off an in-bounds pass, and LaDazhia Williams broke away for a fast-break layup to give LSU an insurmountable lead with 1:41 to play.
A Miami timeout only served to delay the Tigers' net-cutting ceremony.
On its road to the regional final, third-seeded LSU defeated 14th-seeded Hawai'i (73-50) and No. 6-seed Michigan (66-42) at the Maravich Center in Baton Rouge to advance to the Greenville 2 Region. On Friday, the Tigers survived nine lead changes and six tie scores in the second half to defeat No. 2-seeded Utah (66-63).
Miami (22-12), unranked to end the regular season and the sixth seed in the ACC Tournament in early March, earned an NCAA Elite 8 berth for the first time in program history following victories over No. 9 seed Oklahoma State (62-61) and No. 1-seeded Indiana (70-68) in Bloomington, then No. 4-seeded Villanova here in Greenville (70-65).