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Laila Phelia lifts Michigan over South Dakota in Sweet 16 thriller

Laila Phelia #5 of the Michigan Wolverines against the South Dakota Coyotes in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Intrust Bank Arena on March 26, 2022 in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

No. 3 seed Michigan outlasted No. 10 seed South Dakota on Saturday night to advance the first Elite Eight appearance in program history.

Freshman Laila Phelia was the game-changer for Michigan down the stretch, sinking a layup with 23.5 seconds left on the clock to put the Wolverines up 50-48.

From there, Michigan relied on its solid defense to put South Dakota away, defeating the Coyotes 52-49.

Neither team led by more than six points throughout the game, with both sides deploying disciplined game plans. Michigan and South Dakota had to work for their baskets, with the Coyotes shooting 36.5 percent from the floor and the Wolverines shooting 38.5 percent as a team.

Naz Hillmon led Michigan with 17 points and ten rebounds behind 50 percent shooting, while Phelia added 14 points, including her critical late bucket. Leigha Brown also contributed 10 points off the bench for the Wolverines.

Hannah Skerven was dominant for South Dakota, notching 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 2:20 left on the clock.

Michigan’s gritty performance earns the team an Elite Eight meeting with No. 1 Louisville on Monday in Wichita, KS.