Turnovers can ruin performances, and they did exactly that for the Miami Hurricanes as the team suffered its first home loss of the season to the No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 67-62 on Thursday night. Miami (11-4, 1-2 ACC) held a four-point lead with 2:53 left in the contest, but turnovers and missed free throws stunted the team’s chances to secure the victory.
“Just didn’t take care of the ball late in the game,” said senior guard Davon Reed, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “We didn’t execute when we needed to.”
The Fighting Irish (15-2, 4-0 ACC) led by as many as 11 points in the second half, but the Hurricanes showed resilience. Miami went on an 18-5 run to regain the lead 57-55 with 4:30 left in the game, largely due to consistent scoring by Reed and big three-pointers hit by guards DJ Vasiljevic and Anthony Lawrence Jr, but the team could not convert on key offensive possessions in the final minutes of the contest.
Notre Dame switched to a 2-3 zone defense in the final moments of the game, and it seemed to have affected Miami’s offensive flow.
“We don’t have enough three-point shooting on this team to really attack the zone effectively on a consistent basis,” Head Coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We need to be better at finding the open man.”
Notre Dame came into the game with the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country at 1.89. The Fighting Irish had 15 assists to just six turnovers, while the Canes had just seven assists to 13 turnovers, two of which came in the game’s most pivotal moments.
“Its been that way all year,” Larrañaga said. “As much as we want to get 16 assists every game, it doesn’t happen naturally. We are going to get many of our shots off the dribble.”
Despite out-rebounding Notre Dame by nine, led by redshirt senior forward Kamari Murphy who grabbed 12 boards, Miami suffered from the inability to take advantage of second-chance opportunities, missing many put-back layup attempts throughout the contest.
“When you saw the plays around the rim, they were right there,” Larrañaga said. “When we get 19 offensive rebounds, we should have at least 22-24 points come from them. We only had 11.”
The teams were neck-and-neck in the first half, both shooting 36 percent from the field. The score was tied at 28 apiece going into the break, with Notre Dame holding an 11-1 bench-point advantage. The Canes struggled to start the second half, allowing the Fighting Irish to go on a quick 10-0 run to give the team its largest lead of the game to that point. The Hurricanes were playing catchup from that point on.
“No time to hang around; we need to bounce back,” Reed said. “We need to learn from our mistakes.”
The team will need to learn quickly as it gets set to face off against scoring machine Jamel Artis and the Pittsburgh Panthers at noon on Saturday in the Petersen Events Center.