It was obvious the Hurricanes wanted this one. Late in the first half, with the Boston College Eagles on a run, senior captain Davon Reed leaped from behind to block guard Jordan Chatman with authority, slamming the ball to the ground. After junior guard Ja’Quan Newton secured the rebound, Reed stood in his stance and shouted in jubilation.
Miami wanted this one. In fact, it needed this one. The team was determined from the start.
After back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Wake Forest and Duke, UM (13-6, 4-4 ACC) rebounded. The game was not always pretty for the Canes. Despite leading by as many as 17 points in the second half, the Hurricanes allowed the Eagles (9-12, 2-7 ACC) to come back and bring the deficit to just one with seconds left. Miami responded with clutch free-throw shooting on its home court to defeat Boston College 78-77 in a nail biter on Wednesday night at the Watsco Center.
“We knew we needed to win on the home court,” Freshman guard Bruce Brown said. “Get back on the right track.”
The Hurricanes were in control on both ends of the floor through the majority of the game, but the Eagles came alive late in the second period to severely trim the Canes lead.
“Listen we have timeouts if we need them,” Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga said about what he told the team during the game’s final moments. “Rebound their misses so we don’t have to take the ball out of bounds.”
UM maintained its poise, and ultimately, one of the team’s biggest weaknesses became its strength.
“We shot excellent free throws down the stretch, made 13 in a row,” Larrañaga said. “That was something we haven’t been doing.”
Miami’s two leading scorers Reed and Newton took care of business, combining for 40 points. Newton’s 23 points was a career-high. The Canes shot 50 percent from the field, despite coughing up 15 turnovers, which remains to be a problem for the team.
Boston College has a dynamic, scoring backcourt, and the team showed it. Sophomore Jerome Robinson, who is fourth in the ACC in scoring, struggled in the first half but caught fire in the last few minutes to finish with 27 points. Ky Bowman, one of three freshmen in the country with three 30-point games, had 10 points and six rebounds.
“I thought we lost the game in the first half, offensively,” Eagles Head Coach Jim Christian said. “You can’t score 22 in the first half in this league.”
UM outscored Boston College 38-34 in the paint, while also having a seven-point advantage on fast breaks. Brown notched 12 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists, and Huell added eight points. Redshirt senior forward Kamari Murphy led Miami in rebounding with seven boards.
Reed had three blocks, all of which were followed by a burst of emphatic energy.
“They have some very talented guards,” Reed said. “The biggest thing was to key in on them. We just wanted to pack the paint.”
Both teams were coming off rough stretches in their schedules. Miami had lost four of its last five games, while Boston College fell to five of its last six opponents, three of which were Duke, Virginia and North Carolina.
Larrañaga was honored for his 600th win that was notched against Pittsburgh with a ceremony before the game. He was presented with a celebratory jersey and banner for his achievement.
Miami will face off against its highest-ranked opponent so far this season when it hosts No. 9 North Carolina at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Watsco Center.