Canes lose in another overtime heartbreaker

For a second straight game, the Miami Hurricanes lost another heartbreaker in overtime, this time falling to N.C. State, 84-81.

N.C. State freshman Julius Mays played only 11 minutes but hit the biggest shot of the game, knocking down a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left to give the Wolfpack (11-7, 2-4) the win.

“It feels like you just got punched in the gut two games in a row,” said head coach Frank Haith, whose team also lost in overtime this past weekend against Virginia Tech. “Early in the game they got a lot of open looks. We weren’t there. They felt very comfortable against us – our defense – and that’s disappointing.”

In regulation, junior Adrian Thomas gave the Hurricanes (14-6, 3-4) a 70-68 lead after he hit a 3-pointer. The Wolfpack tied it up after Brandon Costner scored on a layup.

Miami had the opportunity for the final shot, but James Dews missed a last-second heave.

“We wanted Jack [McClinton] to make a play, but he mishandled the ball,” Haith said about the final possession of regulation. “Once he mishandled the ball it was a broken play. We just missed it.”

In overtime, N.C. State started out strong but Thomas’s 3-pointer made it a 76-75 Wolfpack advantage. On the following possession, N.C. State bumped it back up to a 79-75 lead. The Canes responded with a Brian Asbury 3-point play after Dwayne Collins missed two free throw attempts.

Miami trailed by three with 31 seconds left, but McClinton came through in the clutch, getting fouled on a 3-point attempt. McClinton hit all three free throws to tie the game at 81. McClinton finished with 27 points, going 9-17 from the floor.

But the ball rested in N.C. State’s hands and Mays hit the game winner, sealing the win.

“He had a bigger guy on him; he just made a tough shot,” Haith said. “We dug ourselves a big hole, but I felt our guys played with a lot of toughness, showed a lot character.”

Miami trailed at halftime, 39-25, and fell behind in the second half by 19. However, the Canes didn’t quit and finally cut the lead to an eight-point deficit with 13 minutes to go. Later, a gliding lay-up by Dwayne Collins gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game at 54-53.

Collins finished with 18 points but was just 2-7 from the free throw line.

Making his first career start, Thomas set career highs with 14 points and four 3-pointers.

“Adrian is a major guy for us, in terms of making plays on the offensive end,” Haith said. “Adrian continues to grow. I think he’s a guy that down the stretch will continue to make big plays for us.”

Haith acknowledges that the Hurricanes blew another opportunity to pick a win in a tough ACC.

“We turned the ball over and missed free throws,” Haith said. “We left too many points out there. In order to win in this league you have to make those winning plays.”

The Hurricanes will return to action this Saturday to face Maryland, a team that will remember McClinton’s late-game heroics at the BankUnited Center the last time they played.