At no point on Wednesday night did the University of Miami men’s basketball team have command of it game against Boston College, but it managed to escape Conte Forum with a 60-59 victory thanks to the efforts of Durand Scott down the stretch.
“We just had a slow start and tried to regroup the best that we could,” Scott said. “At times we didn’t look like ourselves, but for the most part we stuck together mentally and came out with a victory.”
Scott’s face might have come up with the biggest play of the game when it absorbed a sharp elbow from Eagles guard Joe Rahon with 14 seconds to play, putting the guard at the line with a 58-57 lead.
He calmly buried both shots, but the drama had yet to pass as the Eagles scrambled up court to find a last-ditch effort three-point shot.
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With the Hurricanes defense clamping down on Boston College and time ticking away, Olivier Hanlan launched a wild three, but was clipped by Scott, earning a chance to tie the score with three free throws and send the game to overtime.
After putting in the first two, Hanlan’s final shot clanked the front rim, and the Hurricanes (13-3, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) hustled off the court with their fifth victory in a row.
“It was very much like we expected from [Boston College’s] approach,” said Miami coach Jim Larranaga. “We were hoping our defense was a lot better than it was, and offensively we were never in rhythm. But Durand came through for us, made those big free throws and we’re just fortunate they missed that last free throw.”
Early in the second half, Scott (15 points) hit the bench after dinging his right elbow.
He would be back up and in the game after only two minutes, but soon after he would return to the bench, wincing in pain from cramps.
“I turned to the players who were out on the floor and said, ‘We’re not going to have Durand for the rest of the night,’” said Larranaga after checking with the trainer attending to Scott. “I needed them to know how serious this was.”
With just more than seven minutes to play, Lonnie Jackson jacked up a three as the shot clock was winding down, giving Boston College (9-7, 1-2) its biggest lead of the game, 49-42.
At the behest of forward Julian Gamble, Larranaga switched his lineup, going with a smaller unit to defend the Eagles on the perimeter.
The Hurricanes quickly responded with a Kenny Kadji (14 points) basket that was followed by a Trey McKinney-Jones three-pointer that pulled them back within two, where they would hang until a Kadji jumper gave the Canes a 56-55 lead.
Despite shooting only 37 percent in the second half, it was the fifth time this season that Miami has come away with victory after trailing or being tied at halftime.
With Maryland’s 51-50 upset of North Carolina State on Wednesday, the Hurricanes have moved into sole possession of first place in the ACC.
Their unbeaten conference record will be tested next Wednesday at home against third-ranked Duke.