It’s going to take wins like Saturday afternoon’s 69-58 defeat of Boston College at the BankUnited Center for the University of Miami men’s basketball team to keep its hopes alive for a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Senior guard and captain Jack McClinton led the Canes with 22 points and four assists. Junior guard James Dews turned in another solid performance in his second straight start by scoring 14 points.
Miami (16-10, 5-8) has won three straight games against the Eagles (19-9, 7-6) and snapped a three-game skid overall.
“It was a great win for us,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We found a way to grind it out. We led that game from start to finish. I’m really proud of how poised our guys were in handling the game. I thought our guys handled themselves well.”
The Hurricanes jumped out to an early 24-8 lead and BC was unable to get within eight points for the rest of the game.
After finishing with just 13 points in Wednesday night’s loss to Florida State, McClinton immediately took shots. In the second half he set a program record with his 269th career 3-pointer, surpassing Steven Edwards’ 13-year-old mark.
“It’s definitely a huge win for us,” said McClinton, who went 8 of 16 from the floor with four 3-pointers. “It’s good to get that [winning] taste back in our mouth. Our backs are against the wall. We have to take it one game at a time.”
As a team, Miami tied a season-high with 11 3-pointers and shot 52 percent from the floor. The Canes’ defense held Boston College to 36 percent shooting.
“We had good rhythm,” Haith said. “We had good poise. It looked like the veteran team we’re capable of being. We made some shots, got some timely spots. I thought our defense was key in getting some timely stops.”
Since the loss to the Seminoles, Haith talked about shortening the rotation of players. Redshirt junior forward Cyrus McGowan and freshman forward DeQuan Jones played for a combined six minutes. Redshirt freshman center Julian Gamble didn’t play.
“I wanted to go with our veteran guys today,” Haith said.
Boston College senior star guard Tyrese Rice was limited to 11 points on 3 of 15 shooting.
“I thought we did a great job of knowing where he was all the time,” Haith said. “We were not going to let Rice beat us.”
The last time the Hurricanes swept the Eagles was during the 1999-2000 season. Miami reached the Sweet 16 that year.
Even though the team has suffered some tough losses down the stretch this season, Haith hopes the selection committee will consider how tough the ACC is.
“I hope those people that sit up in that room come tournament time know what we go through night in and night out,” Haith said. “We pound each other each night in this league.”
But there still is plenty of time. Many believe that the Hurricanes must win out their remaining schedule to finish at an even 8-8 in conference play. Haith’s number one priority is Thursday night’s road game against the Virginia Cavaliers (9-13, 3-8).
McClinton knows its clutch time for him and his teammates.
“No more laughing,” McClinton said. “It’s complete focus.”