On senior night, it was a freshman who shined brightest.
Behind Rion Brown’s career-high 19 points, the Miami Hurricanes (18-12, 6-9)defeated the Maryland Terrapins, 80-66, at the BankUnited Center Wednesday night.
Off the bench, Brown missed just one of seven 3-pointers in 30 minutes of action. It was the first time Brown scored double-digits in conference play. His previous career-high was against N.C. Central, a 17-point effort.
Head coach Frank Haith praised Brown’s improvement over time.
“I love everything about Rion,” Haith said. “He is a very coachable guy. He is coming along. He is going to be really good for us.”
Miami had five players in double digits, including redshirt sophomore forward Reggie Johnson, who had 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
“It was great win for us. We played well offensively,” said Haith, whose team shot close to 55 percent for the game and made 12 3-pointers. “We put pressure on them. We shot very well. We are proud of these guys and how hard they played.”
Maryland (16-12, 7-8) cut the Hurricanes’ 17-point lead down to five, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown and redshirt junior guard Malcolm Grant put the Hurricanes up 69-56 and sealed the victory. Grant finished with 16 points and sophomore guard Durand Scott had 15.
Brown was looking to shake off a poor shooting performance at Florida State.
“I just wanted to come and play my hardest and play real well,” Brown said. “Usually when you hit the first one you can tell if it’s going to be a good night.”
Sixth-year senior Adrian Thomas is the only senior on the Canes’ roster. Nicknamed “Godfather,” Thomas has evolved into a much different player than the one Haith recruited in 2005. He used to be a slashing, high-flying player, but a season-ending abnominal injury in 2006 and a season-ending ACL injury in 2007 made Thomas a 3-point shooter for his remaining years.
Haith rewarded Thomas’ six years of hard work by calling a timeout with 30 seconds remaining for Thomas to receive a standing ovation.
“He was my first recruit, my first recruit to commit in my first class,” Haith said. “He is a part of my family. He was a special young man. I can’t imagine any coach coaching a player as special as Adrian. Whatever we have asked Adrian Thomas to do, he has done. You don’t understand how special that is.”
The Canes will finish off their regular season when they travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.