Miami’s losing streak reaches nine, ends regular season with 83-75 loss to Florida State

Junior guard Bensley Joseph shoots the ball during Miami's loss to Florida State on March 9 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

Last season played out like a dream for the Miami Hurricanes. The regular-season co-champions of the ACC made a run to the Final Four for the first time in program history and were defeated by an unstoppable UConn team, which went on to win the national championship.

This season, however, played out in an opposite direction, with the regular season wrapping up in Tallahassee, Florida. In yet another game where the Hurricanes were close, but not close enough, Miami lost 83-75 to its in-state rival Florida State to cap off its nightmare of a regular season with nine consecutive losses and a losing record.

As has been the story all season long, a key player was inactive for the ‘Canes on Saturday, with guard Nijel Pack missing this one due to a lower-body injury.

While Pack’s presence was missed, Miami was often its worst enemy over the game, with 17 turnovers turning into 15 points on the other end for FSU.

The Seminoles also knocked down 12 triples, with eight coming from senior guard Darin Green Jr., to propel themselves to victory.

Green led the way in the scoring department for Florida State, with all 26 of his points coming from long range. He was trailed in scoring by junior forward Jamir Watkins, who put in 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Bensley Joseph poured in a team-high 17 points for the ‘Canes, while star forward Norchad Omier and former Seminole Matthew Cleveland each had 16 points, with Omier also adding 17 rebounds.

The first half saw the two teams go back and forth, with eight lead changes within the first 20 minutes. Miami hounded the Seminoles defensively in the first half as Florida State shot only 35% from the field, but the ‘Canes still found themselves down 37-32 at halftime.

This was largely due to Miami’s 11 first-half turnovers and FSU’s effort on the offensive glass, pulling down 12 offensive rebounds.

“From the defensive standpoint, we did okay on the first shot, but their offensive rebounds just absolutely killed us,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “They ended up with 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 16 points. When you play good defense but keep giving them second shots, it becomes very difficult.”

Still, the Hurricanes’ steady shooting in the first frame kept them within reach, led by Cleveland’s 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, Green paced the ‘Noles in scoring with 12 points and four three-pointers.

The second half was closely contested, similar to the first half, with the ‘Canes battling back to take a three-point lead halfway through the second half following an 8-0 run. A balanced attack from the likes of Omier, Joseph and junior guard Wooga Poplar spearheaded the Miami run, while Green continued to rain down threes to keep FSU in the game.

However, once again, turnovers ramped up for the ‘Canes, as the Seminoles stretched the lead to eight as the game went under six minutes to go. As the clock wound down, Florida State began to distance itself, taking a nine-point lead, the largest of the game for FSU.

As the clock wound down on the regular season, the ‘Canes got as close as six points, but FSU held on to win 83-75.

Miami will now look ahead to the ACC tournament, which it must win to get an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. The ‘Canes will enter the tournament as the No. 14 seed and will play the No. 11 seed, either Georgia Tech or Boston College, in the first round. The 14 vs. 11 game is scheduled for 7 p.m. this Tuesday and will air on ACC Network.