A Black Friday game ended in mourning for the 15th-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes and their fans.
But the unusually large and spirited crowd of 6,635 got plenty of bang for its buck. It got a thrilling, down-to-the wire game that UM wound up losing 78-77 on a buzzer-beating jumper by Northeastern senior Quincy Ford, a St. Petersburg native whose family and friends were among the only people cheering at the end of the game.
Ford’s shot off an inbounds play silenced the Miami fans, who had roared and leaped from their seats 10 seconds earlier when Hurricanes center Tonye Jekiri blocked a Northeastern shot deep into the stands. Miami had rallied from a four-point deficit with 34.6 seconds to go. Davon Reed hit a three from the corner to close the gap to one, and then UM took a 77-76 lead with 18 seconds remaining on a jumper by Sheldon McClellan.
All the Canes had to do was keep the Huskies off the scoreboard on the final play.
Reed, one of the team’s best defenders, was assigned to cover Ford on that final shot. Ford had been hot all day, nailing five timely three-pointers and many other shots to keep the Huskies in the game. Reed had a hunch where Ford was going and guessed right. But Ford got a good look and let it go.
“Guy made a tough shot,’’ a dejected Reed said shortly after the game, a towel draped around his sweaty neck. “We had a lot of energy. Goal was to get a stop and put the game out. We played good defense; the guy made a very tough shot.’’
The Huskies got their first win over a Top 25 team in 29 years. Ford, who wasn’t recruited by any big Florida programs, finished with a game-high 24 points. David Walker added 21.
UM was led by Reed’s 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. McClellan had 18, Ja’Quan Newton added 13 and Angel Rodriguez had 12, including a three-pointer to give UM its first lead with 7:48 remaining. Jekiri added 12 rebounds.
“Great players make plays,’’ Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “Quincy stepped up and made a big-time shot at the exact time we needed him to … a storybook homecoming for the Ford family.’’
Ford, who had 30 friends and relatives in the stands, said: “Before the play started, I was thinking, ‘Get to the rim, leave it to the refs.’ And [Reed] cut me off. Early in the game I had two quick offensive fouls, pushoffs, so when he stopped my momentum, I sort of stopped, and I just shot it.’’
The Hurricanes (5-1) entered the game undefeated and on a high after beating two Top 25 teams in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. They talked all week about how they weren’t going to let their guard down, as they did last season, when they lost to Eastern Kentucky at home after starting the season undefeated and reaching No. 15 in the rankings.
But the Huskies made their first six three-point shots and put the Canes on their heels.
“They came out on fire, and we were unable to negate their three-point shooting; that was the biggest difference in [Friday’s] game,’’ Reed said. “That was a very good team; we played our hearts out, just unfortunate. Had we made that stop, we wouldn’t be talking about this loss.’’