NEW YORK – It was the same script for Miami, somehow, yet again: A double-digit deficit, a tremendous comeback. But at last, the magic ran out.
Stanford University won its second NIT Championship in four years Thursday night in a dramatic 66-64 victory over Miami in overtime.
The Cardinal, who was led by Chasson Randle’s 25 points, held off a furious rally from the Hurricanes, who overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half and took the lead at multiple points late in the game in overtime.
In perhaps the key sequence of overtime, Stanford, down by one with under five seconds to go, gave the ball yet again to Randle, who had scored multiple baskets late in the game to propel the Cardinal ahead.
Driving to the left elbow, he drew guard Davon Reed into the air, but Reed landed on his feet before Randle went up and initiated contact – but official Jamie Lucky whistled a foul on Reed, and two free throws from Randle gave Stanford a one-point lead.
Miami still had an opportunity in the final seconds after a turnover and a free throw by Stanford, but a Sheldon McClellan three for the win hit the rim.
“I think we’ve taken a huge step in the right direction for next year,” Reed said post-game. Reed scored 16 points on the night on 4-8 shooting, adding seven points at the line.
McClellan led all Miami scorers with 17 points, all of those coming in the second half. Guard Ja’Quan Newton added 10. They were the only Canes in double figures.
Asked to describe the season in one word, head coach Jim Larrañaga said: “Rewarding.”
Indeed, it was a thrilling postseason for Miami. A 20-point comeback against Notre Dame was nearly pulled off in the ACC Tournament. The NIT run included a seven-point second half deficit against Alabama, an 18-point second half comeback against Richmond on the road, an 11-point deficit against Temple in the semifinals, and of course, the comeback in the championship after trailing by 13 in the second half.
The future for Miami, though, is incredibly optimistic. Miami returns everyone on the roster with the exception of forward Joe Thomas.
Kamari Murphy, a transfer from Oklahoma State, and incoming freshman Anthony Lawrence, a forward with great versatility, will join next season’s Canes.
Considering Miami played this championship game without team captain Angel Rodriguez and center Tonye Jekiri, the result is all the more impressive for Miami.
Featured image courtesy HurricaneSports