Ja’Quan Newton peeled off screens and peaked through vacant lanes, dominating at the point in the University of Miami’s 74-57 victory against Wofford on Saturday.
The win came in the second game of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, put on by the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame, at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Hurricanes (6-2) doused the Terriers’ (2-6) hot three-point shooting guards. They entered the game shooting a Southern Conference-best 43 percent from long distance but made just 21 percent from long range against the Canes.
“Our defensive strategy in practice every day is to chase shooters off of screens so that they can’t get a rhythm three,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Through constant practice at that, it’s really about developing the habits, and [Saturday] we did it. Partially it is that those guys that were out there worked really, really hard.
Never miss a local story.
“I though [Saturday] we really challenged their three-point shooting. In fact, they didn’t have a single guy make two. That’s a really key statistic because different guys are shooting it. By limiting one guy from getting hot, there weren’t the spinoffs you sometimes have where one guy gets hot and then all of a sudden two or three guys are getting hot. I think our defense was very consistent.”
The Canes went on a 17-4 run from the opening tipoff and never trailed.
“Our guard play is very strong,” Newton said. “We’ve got shooters, people that can drive the ball, finish through contact … can handle the ball. I think our group of guards is great.”
The Terriers made just 15 percent of their first-half three-point attempts and trailed 36-24 at halftime. By taking away the Terriers’ best weapon, the Hurricanes brought the game inside, using forward Kamari Murphy on both ends of the court. He finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“That was all part of the game plan,” Murphy said. “We knew Fletcher Magee was one of the top shooters in the country … and then in warmups we emphasized getting out to the three-point line and the guards chasing them off of the three-point line as well. I think we executed our game plan.”
The Terriers capitalized off of 13 Canes turnovers to climb back into the game, using a 9-0 run to cut the lead to three points to start the second frame.
Heat president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison had a half-court view, watching the Hurricanes pull away.
Newton scored 15 points and had nine assists to put on a show for the guests of honor. The man many tout as college basketball’s best sixth man last season started the game and controlled the Canes offense, leading four players in double figures.
Davon Reed added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Bruce Brown chipped in 12 points and five rebounds in the victory.
The Canes return to action on Tuesday, hosting South Carolina State at 7 p.m.