The University of Miami has suffered some tough losses this season. Between second-half collapses, close games foiled by turnovers and overall inconsistency, there have been times where all the Hurricanes could do was stare in disbelief. But Monday night, the Canes smiled. They knew they had earned it. UM showed grit – a lot of it.
The Hurricanes could not hit a three-pointer for the majority of the contest, but when it counted most, threes are what put the team in position to win. Basketball can be funny like that.
In its first overtime match of the season, Miami overcame immense shooting struggles in the game’s most pivotal moments against No. 18 Virginia’s tenacious defense.
With 19 seconds left in the overtime period, down by one with no type of offensive flow, freshman guard Bruce Brown knocked down a three-pointer with a hand in his face to give Miami a 50-48 lead. The Hurricanes closed the deal on defense – something they didn’t due in regulation – and made clutch free-throws to pull away and defeat the Virginia Cavaliers 54-48 on Monday night in Charlottesville.
The Hurricanes have now guaranteed themselves at least a .500 record when ACC play is all said and done – heightening their NCAA Tournament chances when Selection Sunday rolls around.
Hurricanes Coach Jim Larrañaga has said that if Miami (19-8, 9-6 ACC) can keep opposing teams under 70 points and do some good things offensively, that the team has a solid chance to win any game. UM took care of business on defense, but offense was a struggle.
Both teams had a difficult time scoring, and neither moved the ball well. So, free-throw shooting became the deciding factor. The Canes won that battle, hitting 20 of 22 from the line compared to the Cavaliers (18-9, 8-7 ACC), who started 9–9 but finished missing seven of their final 11 attempts.
After being down by as many as nine in the second half, the Hurricanes went on a 9-0 run in the final minutes of regulation that was capped off by a corner three by freshman guard DJ Vasiljevic to tie the game and two free throws by Brown to take the lead. But, the Canes fouled in the closing seconds to give the Cavaliers two free throws of their own – both of which they made.
Then, the Hurricanes were just a second too late from winning in dramatic fashion.
In a tie game with four seconds left, senior guard Davon Reed dribbled up the floor, lost the ball, got it back and then heaved up a desperation three-pointer that banked off the backboard and into the basket. The Hurricanes celebrated only to find out after the official review that Reed had not released the ball in time.
The score at the end of regulation was tied at 43.
After a dominant offensive performance in a win against Clemson on Saturday, Miami had to go the nitty-gritty route against Virginia. The Canes shot just 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from three-point range, while also coughing up 15 turnovers. But, they took advantage of their free throws, made vital shots from distance in the final minutes and played swarming defense against the methodical offense of the Cavaliers to ultimately take the victory.
The teams experienced a low-scoring first half, with Miami taking a 20-19 lead into halftime. Virginia went on a 12-0 run to give it a 35-26 lead at the 12:04 mark of the second period, but UM would respond.
Miami wins its first matchup in Virginia since 2009. Brown led the Hurricanes with 14 points. Vasiljevic and redshirt senior forward Kamari Murphy scored 10 apiece. Murphy grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Virginia has suffered its season-worst fourth loss in a row, shooting just 31 percent against Miami after hitting a season-low 27 percent of its shots against North Carolina just a game ago.
Virginia guard Devon Hall scored a game-high 15 points. Senior guard London Perrantes, the Cavaliers’ leading scorer, shot just 2–15 from the field for four points.
Miami has now won five of its last six games and will look to continue the hot streak when it hosts its second ranked-opponent in a row: The No. 10 Duke Blue Devils. The match is set to tip off at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the Watsco Center.