RICHMOND, Virginia – Miami’s marching its way to the Big Apple.
The Miami Hurricanes rallied down a huge 18-point deficit with 16:30 remaining in an incredible second half performance, en route to a 63-61 NIT Quarterfinal win over the Richmond Spiders.
“We are thrilled to be going to Madison Square Garden,” Jim Larrañaga said after the game. “Quite honestly, we’ve been in this situation so many times this year.”
Indeed, just a week and a half ago, Miami trailed Notre Dame by 20 points, before rallying all the way back to take a two-point lead – before the Irish went on a run of its own to seal the game.
This time, Miami did not take the lead until there was just 61 seconds left on the clock. The team would not relinquish it.
Guard Sheldon McClellan led all Miami scorers with 16 points, including a huge three to tie the game at 55 late in the game, but forward Joe Thomas was perhaps the Cane who sparked the comeback, with a season-high seven points, helping begin Miami’s comeback run.
“A senior, a fifth year senior, who hasn’t played much in the past ten games. Came in with a lot of energy, hustle plays, lots of shots around the rim,” noted Larrañaga. “I think that ignited our team.”
Miami tried a variety of combinations to counter Richmond’s matchup 3-2 zone, which caused issues from the get go. The Hurricanes began the game 1-11 from the field, and went through an eight-minute span in the first half without scoring a point.
“We tried everything we possibly could. Eventually Joe Thomas was the difference,” Larrañaga said. “The combination of his hustle and defense, helped us.”
Guard Ja’Quan Newton added 11 for Miami, and guard Davon Reed went for a double double, contributing 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Richmond led 21-8 at one point in the first half, and 36-18 with 16:28 left in the second half. It was an extremely frustrating game for the Hurricanes, which found itself ice cold from the field from the very beginning of the game, on the road in a nearly sold out Robins Center, energized for a potential trip to New York City and its final home game.
“We told them it’s a very long game,” Larrañaga said. “The experiment with the 30 second clock was a factor. I wasn’t sure how much of a factor it would be. When we pressed them, it was 8 or 9 seconds off the clocks…then they didn’t have as much time as they usually do.”
Miami will play next Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden, and will face off against the winner of the Texas A&M – Temple game. Coverage of the game can be found on ESPN and WVUM 90.5 FM.