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Hailey Van Lith: Handshake incident went viral ‘because it’s women’s basketball’

Hailey Van Lith announced her commitment to LSU on Thursday after transferring from Louisville. (Lance King/Getty Images)

Hailey Van Lith understood the attention surrounding her exchange of words with an opponent in Louisville’s second-round win Monday. But she didn’t agree with it.

Texas guard Sonya Morris led the fourth-seeded Longhorns in the handshake line after a 73-51 loss to the fifth-seeded Cardinals. Morris stopped Van Lith during the procession to say a few words, and then Van Lith brushed off Morris’ arm and replied with a few words of her own as she continued down the line of Texas players.

“I mean that happens in the NBA game every single day,” Van Lith told reporters Thursday. “Just because it was women’s basketball, they’re going to drag it out and it’s a whole deal. But, you know, it really wasn’t a big deal and people are trying to stretch.”

After the game, Van Lith had downplayed the incident, chalking it up to a moment of “frustration” for Texas. But it still spread across social media, with plenty of armchair lip-readers trying to deduce what exactly Morris and Van Lith said as they jawed back and forth.

“I wasn’t surprised, because it’s women’s basketball and people treat us differently all the time,” the Cardinals junior said.

While she takes issue with the public fascination over the incident, though, she is more concerned with her team’s next game: a Sweet 16 meeting with No. 8 seed Ole Miss at 10 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN.

“I’ve moved on from it,” she said. “I’m not on social media, so I don’t know what people are saying…

“But I think if you know me and you watched me, like that actually was a very calm moment for me. So I think that people, I think that people know that I’m a lot more intense than that and I was actually very calm in that moment.”