Falling in the conference

‘Canes falter again down stretch
Miami loses third straight, 74-72 to G’town
The confidence level was high for the Hurricane Men’s basketball team coming into Saturday’s game against Georgetown. However, it would be the disappointments of this current season that would prevail.
Miami fell to the Hoyas 74-72 in a nail-biter at the Convocation Center. The ‘Canes came out very sloppy to begin the game, committing seven turnovers in the first six minutes, while converting on just one of their first eight shots. The Hoyas’ full court press can be credited for the poor start, which head coach Craig Esherik utilized throughout the game.
The defense was especially tough on Darius Rice, who was held scoreless in the first half. James Jones also had a tough time getting it going in the first half shooting just 2-7 from the field, scoring eight points.
“We were very conscious where Rice and Jones were throughout the entire game,” Esherik said. “We made sure that those guys work extremely hard for their baskets.”
Rice played only limited minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but freshman guard Robert Hite gave the ‘Canes a spark off the bench with nine first-half points. After a slow start, the ‘Canes were able to get back into the game with a 6-0 run with seven minutes remaining to take the lead, and went into halftime with a 31-27 advantage.
Rice opened the second half with eight points in the first four minutes. However, the Hoyas defense kept the game close throughout the second half.
“It was our defense,” Esherik said. “I think the press helped us get going offensively as well.”
The offense came easy for Georgetown forward Mike Sweetney. The All-American candidate finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hoyas began to pull away with a Sweetney basket, giving Georgetown a 70-65 lead with 2:45 remaining. The ‘Canes were able to get back in the contest, though, thanks to some late defensive stops and forced turnovers.
After a Robert Hite tip-in to cut the lead to one point, Wilkins stole the inbound pass on the next possession. However, Georgetown guard Tony Bethel stole it back from Wilkins and saved it from going out of bounds. Bethel’s teammate, Brandon Bowman, was then fouled.
“Tony made a great play at the end,” Esherik said. “I think that was the play of the game.”
After a Bowman free throw gave Georgetown a 74-72 lead, the Hurricanes had one last chance to win the game, but it could only manage a half-court heave from Armando Surratt.
James Jones finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, and Darius Rice scored 12 points. Hite also gave the ‘Canes a spark off the bench with 15 points, but it was not enough.
This loss was the ‘Canes third straight and fifth loss in the last six games. Their record now stands at 10-13, which is currently sixth in the conference’s Eastern Division.
“Right now, we’re down, we’re frustrated,” UM coach Perry Clark said. “This is really hard on our seniors because they really wanted to do well this year.”
Clark knows that it has been a disappointing season overall for his team, but with post-season hopes still alive, believes there is still a chance to salvage things.
“It’s a thin line between our successes and our failures this season,” Clark said. “The first thing we gotta do is get ourselves in position to make the Big East tournament and get to New York.”

Kevan Melchiorre can be reached at Kmm102683@aol.com.