With the game clock winding down and Miami down by a basket, Angel Rodriguez probed the defense for several seconds. He spotted a crease on the left side and dribbled to the rim.
Rodriguez’s shot kissed off the glass, but rimmed out right before the final buzzer sounded. The end result was a heart-breaking 72-70 loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
“It was up to Angel to make the decision to drive or shoot,” said Miami coach Jim Larrañaga. “We got the switch we were looking for.”
“He got started a little later than we would have liked. But he got the shot we liked, and it just spun in and out.”
The loss dampened the postseason hopes of the Hurricanes, who might be on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament.
Miami (15-9, 5-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) was forced to play from behind for most of game, in large part because of the Deacons’ torrid shooting from three-point range (11 of 18 for 61.1 percent) in the first half.
The Hurricanes made the necessary adjustments in the second half and gradually cut into Wake’s margin.
The biggest adjustment was contesting three-pointers. In the second half, the Deacons were limited five three-point attempts.
“We kept telling the team that we had to guard against the three better,” Larrañaga said. “They shot the lights out in the first half. Plus, we had to rebound better at the defensive end.”
Davon Reed led the Hurricanes with 17 points and Rodriguez finished with 15.
Sheldon McClellan contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
For the game, Miami shot 45.3 percent from the field, but took a beating on the boards as Wake Forest dominated the glass by a 37-29 margin.
With 12:15 left in the game, the Deacons were up 56-45. But over the next four minutes, Miami put together a 12-4 spurt and tied it at 60 on James Palmer’s layup with 8:22 remaining.
The Hurricanes offense began to flow more freely once they decided to drive the ball to the basket.
“We kept telling our guys to drive more,” Larrañaga said. “I thought we could beat them off the dribble, and we did that a number of times. When you beat a team off the dribble, a lot of times you can get to the rim and get fouled.”
At the 3:49 mark of the second half, Miami appeared to have the momentum.
Reed scored on a finger-roll to put the Canes up 68-64. But Wake Forest (12-13, 4-8) answered with Dinos Mitoglou’s sixth three-pointer of the game to close the gap to 68-67.
Codi Miller-McIntyre hit a clutch runner in the lane and added a free throw to put Wake back in front 70-68. Then McClellan scored off an offensive rebound to force the sixth tie of the second half.
The Deacons took the lead for good when Miller-McIntyre penetrated and passed off to Devin Thomas, who scored on short-range bank shot.
Mitoglou led Wake Forest with 21 points. Darius Leonard added 14 points and seven rebounds and Thomas chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds.