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Miami Basketball Falls Just Short, 66-64 in OT Vs Stanford in NIT Championship

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of the outcome of tonight's NIT Championship game, Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga and his staff, UM fans, and alumni had to be proud of the run the team made after being spurned by the NCAA Tournament Committee on Selection Sunday.

Down Angel Rodriguez for the duration of the Tournament  and down Tonye Jekiri for the majority of the final two games against 2 quality opponents, they made no excuses before or during their stay in NYC.

Gone are the days of missing out on the Big Dance leading to a disappointing and uninspired effort in the NIT.

This team really learned how to compete in this tourney.

This team found its' chemistry.

And with just about everyone back next year and the additions of Kamari Murphy and Amp Lawrence on the horizon, the 2015-16 Miami Hurricanes should be a force to reckoned with in the ACC and beyond.

Tonight, UM again showed tremendous heart, overcoming a couple of double digit deficits to send them game to overtime before succumbing to Stanford 66-64.

In the early going JaQuan Newton who was starting in place of Manu Lecomte, got UM's first three buckets. including a fade away three as the shot clock expired 2 minutes in.

And the undersized Hurricanes were terrific defensively as well early on, with by blocks by Davon Reed and Omar Sherman denying the Cardinal inside.

Still Stanford led,  aided by an alley hoop to Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle buckets.

The 'Canes took their first lead about halfway through the first stanza as James Palmer canned a corner three.

The effort of both teams was fantastic from the onset.

But things fell apart for a while from there for Miami.

Randle answered with a nice drive and a sensational three plus the foul though to put Stanford back on top 23-18.

It was just the start of a 10-0 run that put the Cardinal up double figures.  UM went ice cold, both inside and out, during the stretch.

At the half it was 32-21 Stanford.

Sheldon McClellan was 0-5 from the floor in the first 20 minutes and the 'Canes as a whole were 8-27 (29.6%).

Randle had 13 big points in the first 20 minutes.

For a while it looked like only one team's star had showed up.

However, UM's best player would come back strong in the second stanza.

The second half started out rough for the Hurricanes, as Ivan Cruz Uceda was bloodied under the rim.

But Davon Reed hit a pull up three, and scored in transition as well, to get UM within 8.

Miami was starting to chip away, but Marcus Allen (no, not the retired HOF RB) got inside for a pair of buckets to keep Stanford comfortably ahead.

The 'Canes continued to scrap though, and sliced the lead to 5 on a sensational one handed flush by McClellan.

But a 5-0 run by Stanford put Miami back in the familiar position of down big as the lead stretched to 10.

But yet again Miami fought back.   And this time, McClellan's sensational drive for an and one made it 50-46 with 8 minutes to go.

The 'Canes quickness on the perimeter was starting to cause problems for the Cardinal as McClellan and Reed started getting to the hoop with regularity.

And they just kept coming at Stanford, eventually evening the score on two pure free throws by Omar Sherman.

Things really heated up from there.

Stefan Nastic answered with a tough jumper, over a double team, to make it 55-53 with 2:18 to go.

Reed came back and made a terrific drop off pass to Sherman one possession later to even it back up.

A great, clutch bucket off the dribble by Randle gave the Cardinal the lead right back with just over a minute to go.

The suddenly unstoppable McClellan was up to the challenge and nailed two big time FTs to make it 57 all.

Randle scored again, this time an acrobatic lay up to retake the lead.

But once again McClellan held serve, knocking down two more from the charity stripe to tie it.

The Cardinal had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Allen missed a long trey at the buzzer to send the game into OT.

In the extra session, it was a battle of attrition.

Stanford got the early lead, but the will of this Miami team just would not be denied.

McClellan's two handed slam put the 'Canes out in front 62-61 with two minutes to go.  And one possession later a sharp pass from the Texas transfer found a driving Reed to put the Hurricanes up 3.

Things were looking good, but Stanford's all time leading scorer was not done yet.

Randle would hit a pair at the line to cut it to 1.

UM came up empty to at the other end, and Randle went back to work.

Using some herky jerky moves,  he drew controversial foul on a 20 foot jumper with 3.4 seconds left.

He of course nailed both from the charity stripe to make it 64-63 Stanford.

The 'Canes threw away the ensuing inbound.

After a Stanford FT made it a 2 point game, UM threw another long inbound that Stanford knocked out of bounds.

McClellan got one last look, but could not make a double clutch three at the buzzer.

It was a valiant effort, but Miami fell just short.

Things are going to be really fun next year at the Bank United Center.

'Canes fans would be smart to show up in droves next season.

Next year's team has a chance to be special.

Much like the run they just made.

They might just get another crack at a Championship.