With two defenders in his face, senior guard Jack McClinton nailed one of his four 3-pointers with 24 seconds left to give Miami just its second lead of the game.
It also happened to seal the six-consecutive victory for the Hurricanes, 62-60, against the Maryland Terrapins.
McClinton, who scored a team-high 18 points, passed James Jones for 13th in program history with 1,357 career points.
Down by as many as 17 in the second half, the Hurricanes (13-3, 2-1) came back to finish an improbable run with the help of McClinton, senior guard Lance Hurdle and junior guard James Dews’s eight points off the bench.
“At the 10-minute mark we started executing and we kept telling every chance we had at a timeout, we were going to win this game,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We started to get into our rhythm.”
As soon as Miami put on a full-court press, Maryland (12-4, 1-1) began to falter.
Hurdle sank a three to cut the deficit to eight points as the crowd erupted, the first time the orange and green trailed by single digits since 5:01 left in the first half, at 28-19. McClinton followed with a three and Maryland head coach Gary Williams called a timeout to regroup with a little over five minutes left.
“We tried to put some pressure on them to kind of speed them up a little bit,” Haith said. “We took our time on offense. Second half, we slowed things down and made some good shots.”
McClinton continued his hot shooting as the ACC’s best 3-point shooter to put the Canes within one. When Hurdle stole a pass and made a layup to give Miami its first lead, 59-58, sophomore guard Adrian Bowie was called for his fifth foul and exited the game with 53 seconds left.
Bowie led the Terrapins with 23 points, 12 of which came in the first half.
Junior guard Eric Hayes drew a shooting foul and made both shots at the line to take back the lead before McClinton’s game winner.
“Coach Haith always kept it positive and told us to believe,” McClinton said. “We all went out there with one goal and that was to win that basketball ball. Nobody had any sense of negativity.”
In the first half it was a completely different story.
Maryland had a 35-23 lead as its defense limited the Hurricane offense to just 23 points and caused 10 turnovers. Miami was unable to make easy baskets in the paint and missed four of their seven free throws. The Terrapin defense blocked six shots.
On the offensive end, Maryland took quick shots and rebounded aggressively to find open 3-pointers after inside penetration. Williams’s squad shot 50 percent on the half and won in the fast break department, 10-0.
“Early in the game they were running right by us. I thought they had more zip, more pop,” Haith said. “We allowed them to slow us down with their press.”
Miami heads to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on the fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2) at 9 p.m. Saturday. The game is scheduled to air on ESPN.
“It gives our guys confidence that we can do some great things. We can be a special team when we play up to our abilities.” Haith said. “We know what kind of buzz we will be facing on Saturday night. We’ve got two days to get ourselves ready. This was an extremely important game.”