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Hurricanes Lose to North Carolina in Another Heartbreaker

Miami lost in the final minutes for the third time in a week Tuesday night.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes took on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Tuesday evening looking for their first ACC win of the season so far. Miami has started the season 0-3 in the conference but was hoping for a good chance at a win against the 6-4 Tar Heels.

Both teams struggled on offense in the first half. The two teams combined for 19 turnovers in the first half and a five minute stretch in the middle of the half saw both teams combine for two field goals.

UNC got out to an early lead and led 13-8 at the under 12 media timeout. Day’Ron Sharpe had two nice interior scores to help spread the floor which led to Andrew Platek hitting a three that gave the Tar Heels the lead. Containing Sharpe was emphasized by Miami heading into the game especially due to UNC’s size advantage.

The Hurricanes managed to get back into the game through points in the paint despite the UNC size advantage. Miami had 16 points on the interior in the first half and nice moves for layups for Anthony Walker and Earl Timberlake helped the Hurricanes cut UNC’s lead to just one at 15-14 with 7:58 left in the half.

The lead went back and forth for the rest of the half as each team had sloppy stretches of offensive play to close out the half. Anthony Walker made a nice play for an and-one that he converted to give Miami a 30-29 lead that it seemed like they’d take to the half. However, Kerwin Walton hit a three to have eight points in the half and give UNC a 32-30 lead heading into the break.

Two nice defensive plays out of halftime for Miami helped the Hurricanes get out to a quick second half lead before Walton responded again with a three to give UNC the lead back. Walton then extended UNC’s lead to 37-34 with a jumper with 18 minutes left in the game.

Nysier Brooks made another nice drive to make Miami’s advantage 22-10 in points in the paint with 17:54 left in the game. Brooks play was key to Miami stretching the floor and the Hurricanes struggled on offense after he fouled out with about five minutes left in the game.

Miami continued to hurt UNC in the paint as Harlond Beverly made a nice drive to get a layup and an and-one to give the Hurricanes a 39-37 lead. The Tar Heels managed to respond afterwards though, and despite having 15 turnovers in the game trailed by just one at 41-40 with 15:31 left in the game.

The Hurricanes got a 6-0 run out of the timeout to take a 46-41 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the half. Matt Cross then made a deep three pointer to make the score 49-41.

UNC started to play much better offensively with about 12 minutes left in the game. Miami went 1 for 8 on field goals over a two minute stretch and allowed UNC to close the gap to 53-50. Fortunately Miami responded in a big way with a massive dunk from Anthony Walker to make it 55-50 with nine minutes left.

Walker’s dunk sparked Miami to a 6-0 run that left them with a 59-50 lead with 6:14 remaining in the game. UNC responded to the run nicely and two free throws followed by the Tar Heels drawing Nysier Brooks into fouling out helped UNC make it a 59-55 game with 5:35 left in the game.

Both teams traded baskets afterwards with UNC making Miami uncomfortable on offense. With 3:34 left in the game Miami had a 61-57 lead. Out of a break Caleb Love hit a three, his first made shot of the night, to cut Miami’s lead to just one, 61-60. Then two consecutive poor shots from the Hurricanes gave UNC a chance to take the lead on two free throws. Fortunately for Miami UNC missed both shots from the line and the Hurricanes retained the lead heading into the final two minutes.

With 1:41 left in the game UNC took a 63-61 lead with a three from the corner. Despite Miami leading by nine with five minutes remaining in the game the Tar Heels took a late lead just three minutes later. All of that was due to an 0 for 8 shooting stretch for Miami and a four and a half minute scoring drought.

Isaiah Wong managed to get to the line with just under a minute left in the game and converted both shots to tie the score at 63. UNC responded with two free throws of their own to take a 65-63 lead with 45 seconds left before forcing a turnover on the inbound; bringing up bad memories of the Clemson game which Miami lost after turning the ball over twice in the last minute.

A huge defensive stop got Miami the ball back with 20 seconds left and a chance to tie. A high shot from Isaiah Wong on the interior tied the game at 65, before a last second shot from Andrew Platek won UNC the game at 67-65 and handed Miami another heartbreaking ACC loss.

The Hurricanes lost despite forcing UNC into 20 turnovers and a 34.4 shooting percentage. Unfortunately for Miami the Hurricanes made too many mistakes down the stretch to overcome.

Freshman Earl Timberlake was great with a team high 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists on the afternoon. Elijah Olaniyi was also great for the Hurricanes with 11 points and three rebounds on the afternoon.

This week has been unbelievably unfortunate for the Hurricanes, who have lost three consecutive one possession games. Miami will need to go back to the drawing board in late game situations and hope that Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty can return to full health with enough time left to save the season.

Miami’s next scheduled game will again be tough. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play 6-2 NC State on Saturday afternoon.