March Madness: Hailey Van Lith, No. 5 Louisville end No. 8 Ole Miss’ run to reach 5th straight Elite Eight

Louisville Cardinals guard Hailey Van Lith

Ole Miss’ impressive run in the NCAA tournament has come to an end.

Hailey Van Lith and No. 5-seeded Louisville shut down the Rebels, 72-62, on Friday night in their Sweet 16 matchup at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle to reach the Elite Eight for the fifth straight time.

“We’re some ballers. We’re not scared of the spotlight,” Van Lith said on ESPN. “When the biggest moment is there, we’re ready to play. I’ve been saying it all tournament, all we need is an opportunity. We just won ourselves an opportunity on Sunday.”

Louisville hung right with Ole Miss early on, and took just a 5-point lead at halftime. The Cardinals ended the half on a quick 7-0 run, however, and held the Rebels scoreless for the final 3:40 of the second quarter.

It wasn’t until the end of the third quarter that the Cardinals finally pushed ahead for good. Louisville ended the period on an 11-4 run to take a double-digit lead into the fourth, its largest of the game. The Rebels missed nine of their last 11 shots to end the third quarter, too.

The fourth quarter started out incredibly slow, with both teams combining for just 8 points nearly through the first six minutes of the period. Though Ole Miss briefly cut the game to just two possessions after a big Angel Baker 3-pointer and a quick Myah Taylor steal and layup that followed, it was too late. The Cardinals converted back-to-back and-one layups, first by Olivia Cochran and then by Mykasa Robinson, on the other end to keep the Rebels at bay and take the 10-point win.

Marquesha Davis and Taylor led Ole Miss with 19 points each in the loss. Davis added eight rebounds, and shot 7-of-10 from the field. Baker finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds. The Rebels shot just 4-of-14 from behind the arc, half of which came from Taylor.

Ole Miss reached the Sweet 16 after what was an incredible postseason run. After absolutely blowing out Gonzaga in the opening round, the Rebels stunned top-seeded Stanford on the road to reach their first Sweet 16 since 2007. They ended the season with a 25-9 record, and had back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in almost three decades.

Van Lith finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds on the night, and shot 7-of-18 from the field for the Cardinals. Morgan Jones added 11 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, and Robinson finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds, too.

Louisville narrowly got past No. 12 Drake in the first round of the tournament, and then rolled to a 22-point win over No. 4 Texas to reach the Sweet 16.

The Cardinals will now advance to the Elite Eight to take on No. 2 Iowa on Sunday. The Hawkeyes beat No. 6 Colorado, 87-77, in their Sweet 16 matchup earlier on Friday behind 31 points from Caitlin Clark.