With its two leading scorers forced to watch the game from the bench, Miami suffered yet another ACC loss after a late game comeback fell short.
It became extremely apparent after Wednesday night’s 83-72 loss to NC State that it is necessary to have Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty on the court in order to win.
Lykes, who is dealing with a groin injury, has not played since Jan. 21 at Duke, while McGusty is experiencing back spasms, and since sitting out at Duke, has only played 22 minutes against Virginia Tech.
Trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half, it appeared as though Miami would suffer another brutal loss.
A valiant effort in the final five minutes of the game helped the Canes cut the lead to within three with four and a half minutes remaining, but ultimately Miami could not finish.
“We hit shots,” Harlond Beverly said about the team’s late run. “We played a little bit harder. I feel like we did a good job with that once we kept rolling, but we let up a little bit and they did good at the end.”
This is now the second straight game that Miami used a late comeback to get themselves back into the game, but failed to keep it up in the final, most important minutes of the game. Since Jan. 21 against Duke, Miami is 1-3, with double digit losses to UNC and NC State.
Beverly’s career-high 20 points was the one bright spot in the game. The freshman guard, who has played consistent minutes all season, has been forced into a much larger role in the absence of Lykes and McGusty. Beverly shot 7-of-12 from field goal range and 5-of-6 at the free throw line. With the scoring output, he became the first Miami freshman with a 20-point game since Lonnie Walker IV did so in 2016.
Isaiah Wong, Miami’s other freshman guard, has also stepped up in the absence of Lykes and McGusty. Wong scored 12 points, grabbed a career-high seven rebounds and had a career-high three steals.
“I think they feel good about how hard they played,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We don’t have Chris or Kam, which puts a lot of responsibility on Harlond and Isaiah. Losing is hard but when you play well, they can leave the game at least feeling like they contributed.”
After starting center Rodney Miller went down with an injury in the first half and forward Sam Waardenburg picked up his third foul in the first half, freshman Anthony Walker and junior Keith Stone were forced to play a lot. Walker scored six points and a career-high seven rebounds.
Miami’s one constant all season has been senior guard DJ Vasiljevic, who scored 18 points with six rebounds, playing all 40 minutes of the game.
Miami’s touch ACC schedule continues this weekend as they travel to Tallahassee, Florida to face in-state rival and No. 8 ranked Florida State.