Down 15 points midway through the second half, Miami put together a heroic effort to force two overtimes against No. 16 North Carolina State on Wednesday night.
It was not enough, however, as the Hurricanes ran out of gas in the second overtime, losing 86-77 to the Wolfpack at the Bank United Center.
N.C. State (19-4, 8-2) won behind a balanced scoring attack led by senior guard Cameron Bennerman, who scored 23 points. Senior forward Ilian Evtimov had 16, including a critical three-pointer at the beginning of the second overtime to give the Wolfpack a three-point lead which they never relinquished. Sophomore forward Gavin Grant finished with 13, nailing all six of his free throw attempts.
Four Miami (14-9, 6-4) guards reached double figures in the loss. Robert Hite, Guillermo Diaz and Anthony Harris combined to score 46 points. Freshman Denis Clemente added 11, as UM Head Coach Frank Haith went to a four-guard line-up down the stretch to counter N.C. State’s stifling defense and hot shooting.
“Obviously this was an outstanding ball game,” Haith said. “N.C. State is a great team. With Denis out there we had four guards because they have so many weapons, but they are so experienced that they still found open men and made plays.”
N.C. State began the game hitting three-pointers with ease, nailing nine triples before halftime. The Wolfpack earned the victory from the foul line, however, converting 22 of 25 attempts, six of six in the second overtime.
A lay-up by Engin Atsur gave the Wolfpack a 15-point lead with 10:33 left in regulation. Hite scored six straight points to ignite a 12-2 UM run, cutting its deficit to seven points at 57-50.
Diaz hit a three-pointer with 1:13 left to make the score 64-61, and the Hurricanes’ defense buckled down and forced a Wolfpack turnover. A Harris lay-up brought Miami within a point at 64-63 with 28 seconds left.
Atsur could only convert one of two free throws to give the Hurricanes a chance to tie with 17.8 seconds remaining. Diaz took the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast for a lay-up to send the game to overtime.
After two Grant free throws gave N.C. State a 73-70 lead with 1:31 left in the first overtime, Hite drilled a three with 1:17 remaining to tie the score. The Wolfpack regained the lead on a Bennerman jumper, but Anthony King put back a Diaz miss with 23 seconds left and N.C. State could not get off a game-winning shot.
The Hurricanes were outscored 11-2 in the second overtime.
N.C. State Head Coach Herb Sendek emphatically praised the Hurricanes after the game for rallying in the second half.
“This was another game where it is difficult to call someone a loser,” Sendek said. “Miami is an excellent basketball team. We were fortunate to walk away with a victory.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at email@example.com.