Miami went ice-cold at the worst possible time.
The Hurricanes, leading a tight one on the road, lost in as frustrating a manner as possible, missing nine field goal attempts and committing five turnovers over the final 6:17 as Boston College went on a 9-0 run to win, 72-70.
The Hurricanes (18-6, 7-5 ACC) made shots at a mid-50s percentage rate for most of the game, with DJ Vasiljevic (17 points, six rebounds) hitting five 3-pointers.
But the Eagles (15-10, 5-7) had the better backcourt, with Ky Bowman (24 points, 12 rebounds, six assists) and Jerome Robinson (29 points) combining for 53 of BC’s 72 points. Unsurprisingly, both were big in the final minutes.
Robinson tied the game at 70 with 1:39 left, and Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV missed a pair of 3s (the latter chance thanks to an Anthony Lawrence Jr. steal). With seven seconds left, Robinson missed a trey and Lawrence grabbed the rebound as he flew out of bounds, but he couldn’t find a teammate in mid-air. He threw it right to Bowman underneath, who drew an ill-advised foul on Dewan Huell and sank the winning points at the line.
Shot in the foot: After how well it started, Miami’s late-game collapse was particularly surprising.
The Canes, who led 44-43 at the half and suffered their first loss (13-1) after leading at the break, shot 57 percent on the road in the first half — a good way to get a W.
But they closed 0-for-9 (and 2-of-13), even as the Eagles couldn’t make a field goal in the final 3:00. Other than a wild miss by Walker at the buzzer, Miami’s final possession included Ja’Quan Newton handing to Walker with four on the shot clock, Walker jacking up a double-covered miss from 3, both Lawrence and Huell grabbing offensive rebounds and missing putbacks, and BC snatching the rock with 30 seconds left.
It was tighter than the loss at home to Duke, when UM led by as many as 13 in the second half, but this was another frustrating late-game collapse.
Guarded optimism: Miami didn’t have Bruce Brown, who grew up less than 10 miles from Boston College. He sat on the bench, wearing a boot on his injured left foot. The Canes didn’t get much from Walker, who had six points and four fouls in 20 minutes, and missed four 3s and a lay-up in the final 10 minutes of the game. For most of the day, Miami liked what it saw from Chris Lykes, D.J. Vasiljevic and Newton.
Vasiljevic had one of his best games, scoring 17 points (5-for-10 from deep) and grabbing six boards. As usual Lykes (16 points) was everywhere, taking risks and taking contact, and he continues to be a dynamic scorer. Newton (11 points) had several tough drives and was UM’s best perimeter defender.
With less than three minutes left and UM up 70-66, Lykes missed a 3 and bobbled a pass from Walker, the ball going out of bounds. Lawrence missed the front end of a one-and-one. Ebuka Izundu sealed his man, and Newton stuck to BC’s Jerome Robinson on a missed 3 with under two minutes left. Good defense.
Miami’s guards, adjusting to the loss of Brown, can play well in stretches. But there’s no clear-cut alpha here, not yet.
If only the game ended there: There were 12 ties and 15 lead changes until Miami nearly grabbed the edge for good with 11:20 left. After the Hurricanes made it a five-point lead five minutes into the second half, Bowman crossed over Lykes at the top of the key and sank a 3. After a minute of careless play, both teams turning it over, BC added a 2 to make it a 55-all tie.
Then Huell, who had been largely absent on both ends, worked the baseline for his first two points of the game. BC forward Nik Popovic blocked Vasiljevic at the elbow, but admired his handiwork a little too long. Vasiljevic grabbed the loose ball, stepped beyond the line, and swished a 3 over Popovic to make it 60-55 with 11:20 left.
Miami looked to be in control. Boston College didn’t regain the lead until the clock read 0:03.
Missing in action: Jim Larranaga, who didn’t address the media after last Wednesday’s home win over Wake Forest, was not on the sidelines. UM said he was sick. Associate head coach Chris Caputo, who runs UM’s defense, got the nod. He is now 0-1 this season. Larranaga was in Conte Forum, but according to UM, not well enough to be courtside.
Besides Larranaga and Brown (and Walker, who struggled), Huell didn’t give UM much of anything (two points, four rebounds, three fouls in 24 minutes). BC, which played seven players (and used its starting five for about 90 percent of the afternoon) got zero points from its two bench players. Miami’s Sam Waardenburg (2-for-3 from deep) and Ebuka Izundu chipped in with six points each.
Huge test next: Miami, which slips in a pack of five-loss teams that includes North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia Tech, plays its biggest home game of the year Tuesday. Virginia, 23-1 and ranked No. 2 entering Saturday’s 6:15 p.m. tip against Virginia Tech, was at the top of the league standings (12-0) and had won 15 in a row. Its only loss: Dec. 5 on the road at West Virginia.