Undermanned and overwhelmed, Hurricanes fall to rival No. 11 Florida State

Senior Elijah Olaniyi drives towards the basket in Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Olaniyi had 11 points shooting 5-15 from the field and 1-8 from three.
Senior Elijah Olaniyi drives towards the basket in Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Olaniyi had 11 points, shooting 5-15 from the field and 1-8 from three. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Less than a week after a season-worst 27-point loss to Georgia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes suffered a nearly equally devastating defeat, this time to in-state rival Florida State.

In front of a minute crowd of mostly Florida State parents and families, Miami (7-14, 3-13 ACC) fell 88-71 at the Watsco Center. With a combination of having just six scholarship players available and a lack of ball movement, turnovers and poor defense, the Hurricanes could not keep up with the No. 11 ranked Seminoles.

“We are just worn out, and that was a Florida State team that is talented as any team in the country,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “You’ve got a walk-on playing 25 minutes a game. It’s not the usual circumstances. There are too many obstacles in our way to really execute the way we want to.”

Florida State rotated in more than 12 players and 10 of them scored at least two points. The Seminoles bench contributed 52 points to the team total, while Miami’s bench scored five points.

Sophomore Isaiah Wong gets rejected at the rim by Florida State's Raiquan Gray for one of Florida State's eight blocks against the Hurricanes. Wong scored a game high 29 points in Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong gets rejected at the rim by Florida State's RaiQuan Gray for one of Florida State's eight blocks against the Hurricanes. Wong scored a game-high 29 points in Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Like most games, Isaiah Wong shouldered the majority of the offense for the Hurricanes, scoring 29 points in 33 minutes. He shot 9-for-16 from field goal range, 4-for-5 from the 3-point line and had four rebounds, one block and two steals. The sophomore point guard missed most of the second half of the Georgia Tech game with an apparent ankle injury, but was healthy for the game on Wednesday.

“I know half of them are injured, half of them have problems,” Wong said of his teammates. “I know we are all going through a struggle right now, but we all try to play to the best of our abilities and try to play for one another.”

Teammate and sophomore center Anthony Walker, who scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, had high praise for his point guard after the game.

“He’s amazing. All of us trust him with the ball in his hands and he hasn’t let us down yet,” Walker said.

Florida State jumped out to a 14-6 lead early in the first half thanks to a staunch full-court press and 2-3 zone defense. The Seminoles scoring was spread more evenly, with guard Sardaar Calhoun leading in scoring with 16 points, followed closely behind by center Balsa Koprivica, who recorded 13 points. Anthony Polite and RaiQuan Gray scored 12 each.

Head coach Jim Larrañaga yells at sophomore Anthony Walker in the final minutes of Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Miami's record falls to 7-14 on the season after their largest loss of the season.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga yells at sophomore Anthony Walker in the final minutes of Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Miami's record falls to 7-14 on the season after the 17-point loss. Photo credit: Josh Halper

“I think our effort was good, but I think we had lapses on defense,” Walker said. “We have a couple of more games left, and we want to continue to remain positive.”

Miami struggled with shooting, going 34 percent from both field goal range and the 3-point line.

“In the first half we got some decent shots, we just missed them,” Larrañaga said. “We have struggled from the 3-point line all season long.”

The Hurricanes have now dropped eight of their last nine games. They will next face Clemson on Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. in Clemson, South Carolina.

Senior Guard Willie Herenton gets followed on an attempted shot during the second half of Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Herenton scored 5 points in his 11 minutes on the floor.
Senior guard Willie Herenton gets followed on an attempted shot during the second half of Miami's loss to Florida State on Wednesday Feb. 24. Herenton scored 5 points in his 11 minutes on the floor. Photo credit: Josh Halper