With 45 seconds left, Omar Sherman lofted a three-point shot that hit the rim, bounced around a bit before finally conceding to gravity and slipping through the net.
Sherman’s was the school record-tying 15th three-pointer Miami sank — nearly all of them more willing to slip through the net — as the Hurricanes capped their ACC regular season with an 82-61 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon.
Manu Lecomte and James Palmer hit five treys apiece, and Miami (20-11, 10-8 ACC) earned its 20th win and the sixth seed in next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Coach Jim Larrañaga made a case for his team to get an NCAA Tournament berth, pointing to the Canes’ strength of schedule, strong showings in road games and ability to rise to the challenge of highly ranked teams. Miami went 3-6 against ranked opponents this season.
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It beat then-No. 8 Florida on the road in the fall, went to double overtime before falling to then-No. 3 Virginia and beat then-No. 4 Duke on the road in January. The Canes lost by only two, 55-53, at then-No. 12 Louisville in February, but they also lost to the likes of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Eastern Kentucky and Wake Forest.
“All we can do is continue to play,” Larrañaga said.
Miami played for the second consecutive game without point guard Angel Rodriguez, who had an ankle injury. Larrañaga said he did not know when Rodriguez would be ready to play.
“He wanted to play [Saturday],” Larrañnaga said. “But we came over here [Friday night] to shoot around, and he couldn’t.”
The Hurricanes also got limited play from 7-foot center Tonye Jekiri, who was fell sick Friday night, Larrañaga said. Jekiri, who led the ACC with 10.5 rebounds a game, had just four points and three rebounds in 16 minutes.
Miami also did not get its usual output from leading scorer Sheldon McClellan, who came in averaging 15.1 points per game and had just six points Saturday. But he also had five of the Canes’ 15 assists.
“Sheldon didn’t have one of his typically good games, but he had five assists,” Larrañaga said. “Without Angel, we needed someone to share it.”
And share it they did.
Miami’s crisp passes crumbled Virginia Tech’s defensive attempts, particularly in the first half. Even without Jekiri, the Hurricanes repeatedly passed inside to draw defenders then zipped it right back to the outside for wide-open three-pointers.
“They were open shots,” said Palmer, who had a career-high 17 points as the Hurricanes hit 15 of 25 three-pointers.
Lecomte paced Miami with 20 points, and Ivan Cruz Uceda, playing 22 minutes in place of Jekiri, had 18 points and five rebounds. Uceda hit 3 of 4 three-pointers.
Ahmed Hill led Virginia Tech (10-21, 2-16) with 17 points and four rebounds. Center Satchel Pierce, benefiting from Jekiri’s absence, came off the bench to score 13 points and grab seven rebounds. Justin Bibbs added 11.
But the Canes held the Hokies to 7-of-20 shooting in the first half, building a lead that stretched as high as 29 points. Virginia Tech opened the second half with a bit more energy than the first, but could not cut the lead closer than 20 points.