Basketball, Sports

Hurricanes defeat Boston College in critical game for NCAA tournament hopes

Sheldon McClellan, pictured here in a game against Syracuse earlier this season, led the Canes in their win against BC with 24 points. // Courtesy HurricaneSports

Sheldon McClellan, pictured here in a game against Syracuse earlier this season, led the Canes in their win against BC Monday with 24 points. // Courtesy HurricaneSports

After their original game day was temporarily postponed due to 17 inches of snow hitting the Boston area, the Miami Hurricanes kept their post season hopes alive by defeating Boston College 89-86 in a double overtime thriller Monday afternoon in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Down 75-71 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first overtime, the Hurricanes inbounded the ball to redshirt freshman DeAndre Burnett. Burnett carried the ball up court, beat his defender and drove to the hoop.

He converted the layup and drew a foul, and finished the and-one opportunity. After a BC-made free throw, Burnett again drew a foul, and sank two free throws to tie the game at 76.

On the ensuing possession, BC guard Patrick Heckmann had an opportunity to win the game for the Eagles before the end of the first overtime. Heckmann received the inbounds pass, ball faked his defender, and drove to the hoop, but missed a point blank lay up.

Miami gobbled up the rebound, and junior guard and Hurricanes leading scorer Sheldon McClellan missed a half court heave to send the game into double overtime.

Leading 84-82 with less than 50 seconds to play in the second overtime, Miami came up with a stop on the defensive end after BC guard Dimitri Batten missed a floater in the lane.

On the subsequent possession, Boston College hastily fouled junior center Tonye Jekiri, who sank a pair of free throws and pushed the Hurricanes’ advantage to 86-82.

Eagles guard Olivier Hanlan then missed an open three-point attempt on the next possession, and Miami’s Burnett grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made one of two free throws, and the Canes’ lead was 87-82.

Miami ultimately won the game 89-86. The win was Miami’s 16th of the season, and leveled their conference record to an even 6-6. Boston College, meanwhile, fell to just 9-15 and 1-11 in ACC play.

McClellan paced the Hurricanes, scoring 24 points on 8-15 shooting. McClellan continues to shoot well from the field, and has the top shooting percentage in the nation by a guard in a Power 5 conference. Sophomore guard Davon Reed added 19 points for the Hurricanes and was 3-4 from three-point range.

Team captain Angel Rodriguez dipped back into his slump, scoring just six points on 2-6 shooting. He did have six assists in the game, but fouled out before the end of regulation.

Following a loss last week to ACC piñata Wake Forest, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Miami in his ‘first four out’ category. However, if Miami can win its remaining games against bottom-half conference teams, and split its two games with No. 12 Louisville (away) and No. 15 North Carolina (home), it may still just make the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams have performed much more consistently than Larrañga’s team this year. The Hurricanes are not without talent, however; the team has simply lacked consistent play game in and game out.

James Palmer received a starting spot against Boston College, starting in place of Manu Lecomte. Although the regular season is nearing its conclusion, Larrañaga has been forced to continue to tinker with his starting rotation.

Palmer finished the game with two points, and was 0-4 from the field. Deandre Burnett, in contrast, scored 13 points and played critical minutes for Larrañaga down the stretch.

Burnett’s 13 points were more than he has scored in all competitions this past month combined. Burnett has seen his playing time dwindle since the return of Reed, but his strong performance Monday should earn him a spot in the rotation once again.

Boston College was led by junior guard Olivier Hanlan, who scored 32 points and grabbed eight boards. Hanlan connected on five of 12 attempts beyond the arc, and also had four assists. Senior guard Patrick Heckmann added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles.

Miami struggled to contain Boston College defensively, allowing the Eagles to shoot 46 percent from the field. Miami’s bench scored 26 points, while their counterparts scored just 14.

The difference in the game was at the free throw line, with Miami shooting a staggering 37 foul shots, and making 30.

Center Tonye Jekiri finished the game with 12 points and 15 rebounds, and continues to be one of the best rebounders in the nation. However, Jekiri shot just 2-9 from the field, and the 7-footer did miss an uncontested dunk to begin the game.

Next, Miami hosts Virginia Tech on Wednesday at the BankUnited Center. The Hokies are 10-15 this season, and just 2-10 in ACC play. ​

February 16, 2015

Reporters

Mark Poulose


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