Senior Robert Hite’s last-second desperation heave from more than 80 feet away on Sunday against Florida State hit the back rim and ricocheted out, seemingly a microcosm of the Hurricanes’ entire season.
Miami tended to fall just short in conference play, as it did on Senior Day, losing to the Seminoles 67-64 at the BankUnited Center.
The Hurricanes (15-14, 7-9) lost six of their last seven regular season games to limp into this week’s ACC Tournament.
Depending on the outcome of Sunday night’s Maryland/Virginia match-up, the Hurricanes will either play Virginia Tech (4-12) or Clemson (7-9) in the first round.
With the victory, FSU (19-8, 9-7) is the fifth seed and plays 12th-ranked Wake Forest after finishing its season winning four of five contests, including a win over No. 1 Duke last week.
Before the game, UM seniors Eric Wilkins, Gary Hamilton, Robert Hite and Lee Butler were recognized for their hard work and determination over the past four years.
Hite shot 8-for-15 from the field and 4-for-7 from behind the arc, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“I didn’t want the season to end like this, but we have to keep our heads up and make a strong run in the tournament,” Hite said.
Anthony King shot 4-for-5 from the field and 2-for-4 from the line to finish with 10 points and five rebounds.
“It hurts tremendously to lose [on Senior Day],” King said. “I’m disappointed in myself. I know I should have had a few block-outs for rebounds at the end of the game.”
Hamilton, who fouled out with under a minute left to play, received a standing ovation from the UM fans. He finished his career at Miami with five rebounds, two points, four assists and two steals.
Anthony Harris struggled at point guard for the Hurricanes, missing all four of his shot attempts and committing four turnovers.
Florida State dominated from the free-throw line, hitting 71 percent of its foul shots. The Seminoles went to the stripe 31 times compared to Miami’s 12.
In the first half there were six lead changes and three ties, and the largest lead was six, held by FSU at the 4:44 mark. The Seminoles outscored Miami in the paint 16-14 and led in points off of turnovers 9-2 and second chance points 5-2. The Hurricanes trailed at halftime 35-30.
Florida State was led by its junior forward duo of Alex Johnson and Al Thornton. Thornton shot 8-for-10 from the line and 5-for-11 from the field to finish the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, only turning the ball over twice. Johnson added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“You have to make the tough plays to win,” said UM Head Coach Frank Haith. “In close games, those tough plays determine the outcome of the game and you need to convert those opportunities.”
Michael Holt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.