The Hurricanes (22-10) had multiple opportunities to seal the victory, but the team’s youth that coach Jim Larrañaga had stressed so heavily all season came back to bite them.
The Canes will play in the South region – the same bracket as No. 1 Virginia. This is the third-straight year UM has been invited to March Madness.
Despite keeping the game close the majority of the second half and trailing by just four points with 3:50 remaining, the Hurricanes failed to score the rest of the way. Meanwhile the Tar Heels, led by Pinson, went on a 13-0 run to close the contest.
Most Miami fans have probably seen the miraculous halfcourt shot by Ja’Quan Newton that won the Canes the first matchup against the Tar Heels … But what can UM do in order to emerge victorious yet again?
As a team, Miami went 1-for-8 on the night with runners in scoring position. UM’s first four batters in the lineup combined to go 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts.
Before games, when his name is announced in the starting lineup, Huell makes his way through the huddle, receiving enthusiastic high-fives from his teammates. Once he reaches the end, senior Ja’Quan Newton places an imaginary crown on Huell’s head – the “King of Miami.”
Sophomore pitcher Evan McKendry led UM with another strong outing, tying a career-high with 10 strikeouts and allowing just one run in six innings. He got plenty of run support from freshman catcher Isaac Quiñones, who had four RBIs on the day.
No. 11-seed Syracuse will face off against No. 14-seed Wake Forest at 7 p.m. March 6. The winner of that game will play No. 6 North Carolina the following night at 9 p.m. Then the winner of that matchup advances to play Miami in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 8.
But the Canes kept their composure and closed the game out with a contested mid-range jumper by Lonnie Walker IV to tie it and then with the Lykes free-throw to win it with just three seconds left.
Fewer than two weeks after defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski left Miami’s football program for Alabama, the Hurricanes have already made the big move on the next man up.
The Hurricanes remained poised, however, and rode some solid defense and efficient free-throw shooting from seniors Erykah Davenport and Keyanna Harris to victory.
Senior Ja’Quan Newton had made only four 3-pointers all season, shooting 17 percent from beyond the arc. His fifth one might have solidified the Miami Hurricanes an NCAA Tournament spot.