As the Hurricanes cracked open a new season of basketball late Friday night at the BankUnited Center, the highlight for the 6,060 in attendance came before tipoff. That’s when Miami unveiled its ACC regular season and tournament championship banners, plus one for last year’s Sweet Sixteen.
But it was all downhill from there, as visiting St. Francis stunned the Canes 66-62 in overtime.
Miami struggled mightily on offense, shooting a measly 31.1 percent from the field and missing all of its 3-point attempts – which hadn’t happened in 354 straight games.
“You can tell just [being] in the locker room, and how I feel right now. I don’t feel very good at all,” said senior forward Donnavan Kirk, who led the Canes with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “But we got a game on Monday, we got to bounce back, we got to learn from this.”
The Hurricanes started out strong defensively, stifling the opposition for long stretches and holding the Terriers without a field goal in the first five minutes. But missed opportunities on offense enabled St. Francis to hang around and even take the lead with 2:32 left in the half. Miami was down 27-26 at the break.
“I think our defense started to struggle when our offense was just not producing any points, and unfortunately that’s an area that we know the inexperience is there,” coach Jim Larranaga said.
Despite falling behind by as many as seven points, Miami tied the game on a last-second spinning layup by senior guard Garrius Adams. It was one of the few times the struggling Adams – who shot 4-for-18 from the field and 0-for-8 from 3-point range – could exert his will on the Terriers.
Aside from a 58-58 tie at the three-minute mark, St. Francis led the Canes for the whole overtime. Miami still had a chance to win at the end when a potential go-ahead 3-pointer from Davon Reed rimmed out with seven seconds to play.
“We were way too anxious to start the game,” Larranaga said. “If we had played tonight like we practiced yesterday, we would’ve, I think, played so much better.”
The absence of freshman guard Deandre Burnett, out with a wrist injury, also contributed to the scoring woes.
“We have fewer weapons than we’ve ever had,” Larranaga said. “Last year, six guys could score in double figures on a given night. Now, we don’t have anybody who averaged over six points a game in their college career. So we’re going to have a hard time manufacturing points.”
Unfortunately, the Canes don’t have much time to fix their problems on offense with a home game against Georgia Southern looming at 7 p.m. Monday.