By Russell Hanson
Miami, FL- After what felt like a terrible start, the Miami Hurricanes found a way to stay in the game early. Yale was finding their way to the basket way to easily as they shot 62.5% from the field in the opening five minutes of play. With the Canes trailing 10-8, DJ Vasiljevic entered the game and proceeded to hit his first attempt from three to tie the game at 12. Yale continued to move the ball extremely well and cause fits for the Miami defense as Yale’s first 12 points came exclusively in the paint.
With 11:29 remaining in the first half, the Hurricanes found themselves trailing by one when they began a string of play in which they drained 5 of 7. The Canes, showing a renewed defensive energy, made 5 of their next 7 shots to build a 34-28 led. Ebuka Izundu provided a much needed spark as he scored 10 early points adding a block and four rebound in the opening 15 minutes.
With just under four minutes remaining in the first half, DJ Vasiljevic hit his third three-pointer of the night to score his 14th point. Miami quickly forced a turnover which turned into another three by Anthony Lawrence. DJ went to the bench with 2:24 remaining after going a perfect 4-4 from the field including 3-3 from three and 3-3 from the charity stripe. The Hurricanes closed the half hitting five of their last six shots. This hot shooting built a 10 point lead as the Canes entered the locker room leading 49-39.
Opening the second half it was clear the Canes wanted to run the offense through Izundu. They continued to post him up and he went two for his first four shots of the half. As his point total reached 14, the Canes continued to lead by 10, 56-46. After Chris Lykes hit one of two free throws, the Hurricanes went three plus minutes without scoring while Yale reeled off 12 straight. With 14:12 remaining in the second half, Miami only led by four, 57-53.
Chris Lykes finally broke the scoreless streak with 12:36 left as he hit a running floater in the lane to keep Miami up by four. The game continued at a blistering pace despite the scoreless streak. Both teams were shooting over 50% from the field with ten minutes remaining in the game.
Miami had no answer at all for Yale’s Mike Oni as he scored his 25th point in the midst of a 7-0 Bulldog run. “We couldn’t guard him. We’ve actually had a really hard time guarding the other team’s best players this year.” Larranaga added in his post game press conference. Miami held them off though as Ebuka Izundu hit a tough shot in the post as he was fouled. He hit the ensuing free throw to keep Miami up 71-66 with seven minutes remaining. This shot by Izundu would be the only shot Miami would hit in their next ten attempts but they still did just enough to hold off the Bulldogs as they led 71-69 with five minutes remaining. With 3:36, Izundu got called for a goal-tend which brought the score to 71-71. “We were just not in sync offensively in the second half. I wish I knew why.” Said Coach Larranaga after the game. “When you go 10-33 and 1-12 from three, you’re just not going to win.”
Anthony Lawrence ended the scoreless streak this time with a nice post move basket. Yale converted two free throws after a questionable call to being the score even again at 73 with 2:32 remaining. Yale then converted two more free throws to take their first lead since nine minutes remaining in the first half. With Miami trailing by two they failed to convert yet another wide open three but stopped Yale at the other end. With less than 15 seconds left, Zach Johnson missed a layup to give Yale the ball back. Yale, up by two with less than ten seconds left, converted both free throws to put the game out of reach.
Yale shot only 4-18 from three but Coach L said “the shots they did hit were all in big spots when they really needed them.”
The Hurricanes fall to 5-3 and will return to action December 4th vs. Penn in Philadelphia.