In a game of runs that was mostly dominated by the Miami Hurricanes, a single shot made the difference on Tuesday night.
Following Joel Berry’s game-tying 3 pointer, senior point guard Ja’Quan Newton took the game into his own hands, nailing a 40 foot buzzer beater to give the Canes a much-needed tournament resume win over the #9 Tar Heels.
The bananas finish between Miami & UNC pic.twitter.com/u0sBodtKsz— That Dude (@cjzer0) February 28, 2018
This moment was awesome. Incredible. Iconic. And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
Entering Tuesday’s game at 20-8 (8-7 in ACC), Miami needed a win to both cement their NCAA tournament status, and help push for a double bye in next week’s ACC tournament. After leading for much of the game, including by as much as 16 points in the 2nd half, Newton’s game winner gave the Canes exactly what they were looking for.
Newton didn’t win the game by himself, however. C Ebuka Izundu, a Charlotte, NC native, played HUGE in the first half, compiling 12 points and 5 rebounds as the Canes sprinted to an early lead.
On top of the performances from Izundu and Newton, who finished with 15 points and 3 assists, Miami 4 other players score in double digits, for a total of 6 players who scored 10 or more. That balanced attack was too much for Carolina to overcome — barely.
The Tar Heels played sloppy basketball on the night, giving up 13 turnovers (including back to back to back TOs for Miami buckets to open the 2nd half), and only went 13-20 from the FT line. Usually Miami’s Achilles Heel, the Canes went 12-13 from the charity stripe, for comparison.
While seniors Luke May and Theo Pinson chipped in with 14 and 12 points, respectively, Joel Berry and Cameron Johnson were the offense for North Carolina. Berry ended up with 31 points — and routinely torched the undersized Chris Lykes — to keep Carolina in the game, and Johnson ended with 20 points, including no less than 3 second half 3 pointers.
But, regardless of the numbers, or any “senior night” narrative, the star of the night was Newton, Miami’s oft-derided PG. The 6’2” senior from Philadelphia showcased the skills that made him a top 50 recruit 4 years ago, driving to the lane for scores, hitting mid-range jumpers, playing great defense, and, of course, the 40 foot game winner you saw above.
From here, Miami returns home to the Watsco Center on Saturday afternoon for Senior Day against Virginia Tech. Currently in 6th place, Miami needs a win and some help to get up to the 4th seed in the ACC Tournament, a coveted spot for the double-bye that comes with it.
Awesome game. Awesome night. Iconic moment.