Quick turnaround and high stakes for Miami and Arizona State
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Saturday morning came early for Miami and Arizona State.
Neither is complaining.
The fourth-seeded Hurricanes (25-8) and fifth-seeded Sun Devils (21-10) will play Sunday night on Miami’s home floor for a trip to the Sweet 16, which is the obvious good news. The only downside was that it is a hectic turnaround — neither coaching staff slept very much after their respective wins on Friday night, with tons of video to break down and scouting reports to prepare.
Then again, it beats the alternative. Come Sunday, there will be only 32 teams left in the race for the national championship. Miami and Arizona State are among them.
“Quick turnaround, obviously, and thank God I have a great staff,” said Miami coach Katie Meier, whose game Friday ended around 11:30 p.m. “I feel prepared in a very short time, but, yeah, very impressed with what Arizona State brings to the table.”
The admiration was mutual.
“I knew Miami had a fantastic team,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “Now I really know, after watching a lot of film last night, how fantastic they are.”
Miami advanced by beating Florida Gulf Coast 69-62, a game where the Hurricanes trailed briefly in the fourth quarter. Arizona State topped UCF 60-45, setting the tone with defense early and then building enough of a lead where it could easily stave off a fourth-quarter rally by the Knights.
Arizona State is trying to make its first Sweet 16 since 2015. Miami has made only one of those, back in 1992 — when the field was 48 teams and the Hurricanes needed to win only one game to get there.
Some of what to know before Sunday night:
MIAMI’S BIGS: Beatrice Mompremier (who has been to the Sweet 16 and beyond, back when she was at Baylor) and Emese Hof combined for 31 points, 22 rebounds and four blocked shots in the win over FGCU. Miami had a huge size edge Friday; that edge won’t be as pronounced Sunday with the 6-foot-4 Mompremier and 6-foot-3 Hof likely starting against 6-foot-3 Charnea Johnson-Chapman and 6-foot-1 Kianna Ibis.
PACE MATTERS: Miami is 20-2 when scoring at least 69 points, 5-6 otherwise. Arizona State is 18-5 when holding teams under 69 points, 3-5 otherwise. “What are you trying to say? We are deliberate? We don’t play fast?” Turner Thorne said, laughing.
CALMING DOWN: Even with the short turnaround before practice early Saturday afternoon, things might actually seem more calm now for Arizona State than when the Sun Devils first got to Coral Gables. Their flight landed late Wednesday night and they got caught in bad traffic before their practice Thursday morning — before 8 a.m. Arizona time. Nothing felt harried to players on Saturday. “It’s nice to get the pregame jitters out of the way,” said Courtney Ekmark, who led Arizona State with 20 points Friday. “Now we’re focused on winning this next one.”
HOME FINALE: Win or lose, it’s the last Miami home game for Hof — who came to the Hurricanes from the Netherlands with sharpshooting guard Laura Cornelius four years ago. Cornelius missed a year with a knee injury so she remains eligible for 2019-20. “It’s going to be special and it’s a great opponent,” Hof said. “We’re going to give it our all, that’s all we can do, and I’m very excited for it.”
UP NEXT: The Miami-Arizona State winner will face either top-seeded Mississippi State or ninth-seeded Clemson in the Portland Region semifinals on Saturday.