The Zags will make their third consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16, facing Kentucky, after disposing of third-seeded Miami.
SPOKANE — The McCarthey Magic continues.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs rode the wave of a deafening, sold-out crowd of 5,824 in McCarthey Athletic Center to a stunning 65-54 victory over eighth-ranked Miami in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
For the second-straight year as a home-standing 11th seed, the Zags (28-5) upended a third seed, this time dispatching the Hurricanes (26-6) with a closing 20-8 run over the final six minutes.
“We don’t like to think of ourselves as underdogs,” Gonzaga senior Katelan Redmon said. “We know they’re a very good team but we’re also a very good team. We went out there thinking we can win and we did that tonight.”
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Gonzaga (28-5), headed to its third straight Sweet 16, plays second-seeded Kentucky (27-6) in the Kingston (R.I.) Regional on Sunday.
Kelly Bowen’s three-pointer for Gonzaga with 6:02 left produced the 11th and final lead change at 48-46. Kayla Standish, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points, followed with two free throws.
After a basket by 6-foot-6 Shawnice Wilson, who had 12 points and nine rebounds, Redmon made two jumpers, sandwiched around a Haiden Palmer fast-break pullup for a 56-48 lead with 2:43 to play.
Palmer finished with 15 points and joined Redmon (16 points) and Standish with eight rebounds as the Bulldogs hung with the bigger Hurricanes. They lost the rebounding battle 43-40, but limited Miami to 32.8 percent shooting.
“For two offensive teams, I thought we both showed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “We were just fortunate to make some of the plays, some of the stops, down the stretch.”
He said a key was the Zags making just 11 turnovers, less than half of what the Hurricanes usually force.
All-American Shenise Johnson had 20 points on 10-of-23 shooting and 13 rebounds for Miami, which made just 4 of 16 shots in the last six minutes.
“We did not play our best basketball game but we played as hard as we could possibly play,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “Gonzaga did a fantastic job of not turning over the ball. … Kelly Graves is one of the best coaches in the country.
“I’m happy for Gonzaga, they represent women’s basketball. I’m happy for this community. I’m happy for this crowd.”
Gonzaga led by as many as five in the first half, shooting 42 percent to 34.5 for the Hurricanes, before settling for a 30-27 lead.
The Hurricanes managed a pair of four-point leads early, the second time at 9-5 when Wilson scored with an offensive rebound. But before she could do any more damage — she had four points and two rebounds — she picked up her second foul and sat out the last 15 minutes.
That opened the door for Standish, who had eight of Gonzaga’s first 11 points. The 6-2 senior, who had 30 points in each of Gonzaga’s two home wins in the NCAA tournament last year, had 12 points at halftime.
“I was a little bit disappointed in the first half,” Graves said. “I thought we needed to separate a little bit more with her (Wilson) out of there.”
It’s the second time Wilson, a redshirt junior, faced Gonzaga with a Sweet 16 trip at stake. When she was a freshman, she started in Pittsburgh’s 65-60 second-round win.