Walker's Game Winner Caps Canes 14 Point Rally

Walker's Game Winner Caps Canes 14 Point Rally

CORAL GABLES, FL. -- Lonnie Walker hits a game winning 3 with 2 seconds left as Miami (20-8, 9-7 ACC) rallies from 14 down to earn redemption against Boston College (16-13, 8-8 ACC) at the Watsco Center.

It was another disappointment for the Canes. Down 14 with 5:39 left in the game, the Canes looked defeated, ready to surrender a season sweep to the Boston College Eagles and move themselves much closer to the dreaded bubble. But then everything changed. The Canes started to play inspired, realizing a loss to BC at home was simply inexcusable, and much like the way the Canes fell apart just 2 weeks ago in Chestnut Hill, the Eagles had their own implosion, leading to Lonnie Walker's game winning 3 with just 2 seconds left.

Walker may have hit the game winner but it was the play of Chris Lykes down the stretch that led to the Miami victory. The Freshman was all over the place, causing turnovers, knocking down clutch free throws, and finding open players for huge shots en route to the 79-78 victory. Despite the ice in his veins from the free throw line, the biggest play of all for Lykes, was the charge he took with just 1:28 left in the game that fouled out the Eagles star point guard Ky Bowman. Without Bowman, the Eagles were lost in the backcourt and the Canes were able to force players who didn't normally handle the ball to have to take care of it. Add to that that the Eagles were missing Ky Bowman at the stripe where he is a 76% free throw shooter and a clutch senior. At the end of the game Luka Kralijevic and Nik Popovic, 43.6% and 73% respectively from the line, missed huge free throws which left the door open for the Canes. You can never predict the future, but had Bowman still been in the game, it seems almost certain that the man at the line would have been him or Jerome Robinson.

After ending their 3 game losing streak on Monday in South Bend, it looked like the Canes might have solved some of their offensive woes. The offense played well in the first half, and the game was within reach, but once the 2nd half got under way the Canes, like so many times since the Brown injury, looked completely lost on both the offensive and defensive ends. The Canes couldn't buy a bucket, scoring only 16 in the half, before their improbable 24 points in the final 5:39. The Canes rallied for the win, and while the entire game may not spark confidence in Canes fans for this teams potential moving forward, it is certainly inspiring to see a team that refuses to give up no matter how insurmountable the odds may be.

In the first half, the offense for Boston College had their way with the Canes defense putting up 41 points, including 12 from Nik Popovic who came into the game averaging just 9 per game (he would finish with 17). The Eagles shot the ball at 58.8% and scored 13 points off 7 Canes turnovers, and yet still they held just a 41-39 lead heading into the break.

While the Canes were outplayed in nearly every aspect of the game in the first half, there was one area where the Canes held a huge advantage: Rebounding; in particular offensive rebounding. The Canes out rebounded the Eagles 20-9 in the first half including 10-2 on the offensive glass. Coach L decided to go with the same starting lineup that took the court in the victory over Notre Dame on Monday and in terms of inside presence it worked. Dewan Huell had 4 offensive boards, including a team high 10 points at the half, while Ebuka Izundu added another 3 offensive boards and 4 points in his starting role.

In the 2nd half it was the turnovers that again haunted the Canes, but it was also the rebounding that helped them ignite their rally. The Canes finished the game out rebounding the Eagles 39-27 including 15-5 on the offensive glass. Dewan Huell and Anthony Lawrence each pulled down 9 boards, while Ebuka Izundu and Sam Waardenburg added 6 apiece. This inside presence was ultimately the difference between this matchup and the first one in BC. Dewan Huell finished with a team high 16 points, compared to only 2 in the first contest.

Despite winning, once again the Canes had no answer for Jerome Robinson who scored 30 on 12-17 shooting. Ky Bowman added another 15, and the two players combined for 98 points in the two matchups with the Canes this season. While BC finished the game shooting 56.6% from the field compared to Miami's 46.2% it was shockingly the free throw shooting that ultimately did BC in and helped Miami pull off the miraculous comeback. The Canes shot 86.7% from the stripe, including Lykes 7-7, compared to BC's 56%.

While this game won't do much to boost the Canes resume, it does mean that they avoided the only potentially bad loss remaining on their regular season schedule. The Canes won't have much time to celebrate the comeback, as they have to travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels on Tuesday. But even with a loss at UNC, and a loss in the season finale against Virginia Tech it's hard to imagine the Canes missing out on the Big Dance. It may have been an ugly game, but Lonnie Walker's 3 ball may have been the shot that officially sent the Canes dancing.

Comments (2)

Coach is still juggling lineups like crazy. Hey coach 15 is your 5 and 2 is your 1 problem solved