The Hurricanes (19-8, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost their second game of the season to the Virginia Cavaliers (17-10, 11-6 ACC), breaking their three-game win streak that started after their first loss to Virginia on Feb. 5.
Senior forward Jaydon Gardner provided a game–high 23 points for the Cavaliers, while sixth-year guard Kameron McGusty led the Canes in scoring with 20 points. Fourth–year guard Jordan Miller scored 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting for Miami, including eight points in the second half.
Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong was almost non–existent in the second half, making only one shot. He ended the night with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
The Canes started out with intensity, intercepting passes and scoring with pace to create a 12–4 lead early on.
For a lot of the first half, the teams were scoring back and forth, each having defensive stops for one another. Both teams also performed similarly in rebounding, with Virginia edging Miami on the boards, 36-33.
Virginia’s frontcourt did a great job of taking control of the paint. The combination of 7-foot-1 redshirt junior center Francisco Caffaro and 6-foot-11 redshirt sophomore forward Kadin Shedrick grabbed 4 offensive rebounds, which was half of Virginia’s total.
Miami did an exceptional job of guarding the perimeter in the first half, forcing the Cavaliers into six turnovers and a 1-for-8 shooting performance from deep.
UM had the home crowd going ballistic towards the end of the opening period, going on a 13–2 scoring run to close out the half. The Canes had a 38-30 lead entering halftime.
The second half started out as a complete opposite to the end of the first period, as Virginia went on a 23-6 scoring run to start off the half.
“We have to take accountability and be responsible for that,” Miller responded when asked about Miami’s second-half struggles. “The energy wasn’t as good as it should be.”
Miami answered with a 7-0 scoring run that got the crowd back into the game, cutting Virginia’s lead to two, 53-51, with 8:48 left in the second half.
This stretch of success for the Hurricanes was short-lived, as Virginia was able to force multiple blocks and steals to open up their lead. A clutch mid–range floater from Gardner put Virginia up 65-57 with 1:39 left in the game, which all but guaranteed the Cavaliers an important victory.
“We have to put it behind us,” McGusty said. “Of course, they had their run in the second half, but we can’t sit and dwell on it.”
With the ACC tournament approaching, it will be important for the Hurricanes to put together a string of victories, beginning on Tuesday against Pittsburgh at the Peterson Events Center. Tip–off is at 8 p.m.