Loss drops men’s hoops to cellar of Big East
Once again, the Miami Hurricanes’ struggling men’s basketball team displayed their inability to pull out a close game.
The Hurricanes were outscored late in the contest, falling Saturday 72-68 to Boston College at the Convocation Center. Eagles guard Troy Bell continued to make his case for Big East Player of the Year with 32 points in 38 minutes of play. Sophomore Jermaine Watson had a career night with 17 points in 26 minutes, including several clutch shots and free throws down the stretch.
James Jones and Armondo Surratt had career highs in points for the ‘Canes with 27 and 14, respectively.
The Hurricanes were forced to play without Darius Rice, who sprained his wrist against Villanova. Head coach Perry Clark is confident that his leading scorer will be back for Wednesday’s game against Virginia Tech.
“The doctor has said that it is a sprain and he is in a soft cast,” Clark said. “The timetable that they set for Darius has him coming back on Wednesday.”
The game was especially meaningful for Hurricane fans in attendance as they were treated to a reunion of many former basketball stars, like Tim James and Rick Barry, who received a stirring ovation as he was introduced to the crowd.
Barry addressed the crowd after he was introduced, thanking them for supporting all of the basketball alumni over the years. He also lobbied for more seats to be built in the Convocation Center and made a joke about how none of his sons were recruited by the Hurricanes in the past.
As for the game itself, both teams opened up the first half turning the ball over several times. The ‘Canes were only able to attempt three shots in the first seven minutes. According to Clark, the slow start is what ultimately cost the team the game.
“Obviously the turnovers early in the game really hurt us,” Clark said. “We were without Darius so I think the other players felt some pressure and were careless with the ball.”
The Eagles dominated the first half, going into the locker room with a 37-23 lead. Bell scored 19 of his 32 points in the first 20 minutes.
Seemingly energized by the halftime ceremony, the ‘Canes came out of the locker room with more intensity and went on an eight point run to cut their deficit to six (37-31). The ‘Canes hung tough for the rest of the game but were never able to take the lead because of Bell’s hot shooting and Watson’s tough play.
Boston College head coach Al Skinner was impressed with how the Hurricanes kept the game close in the second half.
“Miami just never seemed to go away,” Skinner said. “We were fortunate to win because they played a good game. They were probably the toughest team we’ve faced during out win streak.”
The loss combined with a Virginia Tech win over Villanova dropped the Hurricanes to last place in the Eastern division of the Big East with an overall record of 10-15 (3-11 in the conference). Despite the loss, Clark is impressed with how his team fought back in the second half.
“Our team has heart and character,” Clark said. “I am truly proud of how we gathered our composure and battled back in the second half. We just need some good things to happen for us this week.”
Clark also was impressed with Bell’s performance and how the guard was able to get off shots against the ‘Canes triangle defense.
“Bell made all of the difference for them,” Clark said. “He is definitely the best player that I’ve seen this year, and if he’s not Player of the Year in the Big East I’ll be shocked.”
Now the ‘Canes plan to focus on getting into the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York by beating the Hokies on Wednesday.
“Our future is in our hands,” Clark said. “We will continue to work hard and hope for a couple of breaks this week.”
-Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org