Coming off of an impressive 64-59 road victory at NC State on Saturday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes were hoping to at last jump-start their Atlantic Coast Conference regular season campaign with a second-straight win.
Boston College (3-9, 1-5 ACC), also a struggling program of late, had other ideas, however. Collecting their first ACC win on the season, 84-62, Eagles guards Jay Heath and Rich Kelly combined for 52 points to burn Miami (5-6, 1-5 ACC) on the team’s 18 3-point field goals.
Hurricanes center Nysier Brooks and guard Elijah Olaniyi scored 14 each, though Miami never rallied back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
Senior guards Chris Lykes (ankle) and Kameron McGusty (hamstring) did not compete for Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga and their timeframe to return remains uncertain. Also sidelined Tuesday night was redshirt junior forward Deng Gak, being just the second contest he has missed on the season thus far.
Similar to previous matchups, the Canes shot just 1-of-9 on 3-point field goals in the first half while the Eagles heated up, hitting 9-of-17 from downtown. Boston College scored 21 fast break points, as Miami notched only 10. The rebounding margin remained locked at 34 each, however.
“I thought Boston College was very sharp from start to finish, and we were awful,” said Larrañaga after the team’s lackluster practice on Monday, which involved missed layups and carelessness in handling the basketball. “It carried over to tonight.”
The Canes opened the game with a layup and two made foul shots from Brooks, as well as an Earl Timberlake layup. Boston College initiated a 7-0 run behind senior forward Steffon Mitchell’s three and Heath’s two lay-ins, taking a 10-6 lead barely four minutes in.
Mitchell drained two additional 3-point field goals and Heath led the Eagles with 14 points by the intermission.
“We’ve always had issues defending a five-man who can shoot the three,” Larrañaga said. “Steffon Mitchell hit three [3-point shots] in the first half, he’s only hit five on the season. So, when one guy starts making it, it has like a snowball effect. We told our guys Rich Kelly’s having a great year, he’s shooting the ball extremely well. Jay Heath is just a very good all-conference-caliber guard. They just torched our backcourt like we weren’t there.”
The Canes opened up the second half allowing their opponent to spark a 14-2 scoring burst, partially fueled by Kelly’s three consecutive 3-pointers that expanded the spread to 58-36.
Heath and Kelly added another three and freshman guard DeMarr Langford contributed with one for another Eagles 9-0 run, with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Miami, on the other hand, shot only 2-of-16 from distance, with Olaniyi converting on both. To say the team will not be consistently relying on that plan of attack would be an understatement.
“I think it’s the lack of Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty’s 3-point shooting,” Larrañaga said. “They’re over helping on the drive and forcing him to throw it to a guy who doesn’t shoot threes and we took 16 of them. When you count on guys to make threes that aren’t there, it falls on someone else’s shoulders. We’re just not good at making threes.”
The Eagles remained electric from the same spot in the final eight minutes, as Heath buried yet another and even sophomore forward CJ Felder connected to give his team a 25-point advantage, its largest of the night. They finished the contest scoring 54 of their 84 points from 3-point territory, scoring 21 in transition.
McGusty, who competed in the home loss to Clemson on Jan. 2, recently received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection in order to cure his irritated hamstring suffered in that game.
The redshirt senior has not practiced since then, with the hamstring having been “very sore,” per Larrañaga.
“He played against Clemson, [and] did a nice job,” Larrañaga said. “But by playing against Clemson, he irritated that injury and has got to have a different kind of treatment to help improve the hamstring, so he can get back and play.”
Miami returns home on Saturday to take on No. 16 Louisville (8-1, 3-0 ACC), a team that dealt the Canes two double-digit losses last season. The Cardinals no longer have former stars Dwyane Sutton and Jordan Nwora, who both departed for the NBA in the fall. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network at 8 p.m.