After dropping three games in a row, all to Atlantic Coast Conference foes, the Miami Hurricanes were finally on the winning side of things again when they beat the visiting Norfolk State Spartans, 64-49 on Saturday.
The victory marked the Canes’ first home win in 2014.
“I thought the key to the game was switching to the man-to-man and putting Erik Swoope in,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said after the game. “His activity to end the first half was terrific. As Donnavan Kirk mentioned, we went to our scramble defense and trapped them a few times and sped them up, and we were able to stop them and get some very quick baskets.”
The Spartans (12-10, 6-2) hung with the Canes early on and even took a one-point lead with nine minutes left in the first half. It was then that Miami increased the pressure defensively and went on a 13-2 run before intermission.
With Miami (11-10, 2-6 ACC) up 31-21 to start the second half it was more of the same for the Hurricanes as they pushed their lead to 22 points and didn’t allow the Spartans to score until the visitors hit two free throws six minutes into the half.
“Yeah, it definitely caught us off guard,” said Spartans guard Pendarvis Williams when asked about Miami’s increased intensity on defense. “Like coach said, we had a couple turnovers toward the end – I threw a turnover – and they capitalized off it. And they were just trying to throw different things at us, because we were actually being successful a little bit with our offense.”
Williams led all scorers with 21 points followed by Miami’s Rion Brown, who pitched in 15.
The Canes, who played without forward James Kelly (out with an ankle injury) for the second game in a row, all shouldered the scoring load with four starters recording double-digit points.
Senior guard Garrius Adams quietly had one of his best games of the season, netting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and a steal.
Norfolk State mounted a brief comeback midway through the second half when a Williams jumper cut the lead to 10 with six minutes left in the game. However, Miami continued its course of getting to the free-throw line frequently, making 16 of 18 in the second half.
“I really wanted to get to the foul line,” Larranaga said. “In fact, in the last seven minutes of the game, I told them ‘I want layups and free throws,’ and we were able to do that.”
The confidence boost comes at the right time for Miami with the No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers traveling to Coral Gables for the first ACC matchup between the two on Wednesday evening.
“That’s a good win for our confidence, too,” freshman guard Manu Lecomte said. “We lost a couple of games, so now that’s a very good win.”
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh
(7 p.m. at the BankUnited Center)
Saturday vs. N.C. State
(2 p.m. at the BankUnited Center)
Feb. 10 at Florida State
(9 p.m. ESPNU or WVUM 90.5 FM)