Miami fends off Pitt rally, 66-58
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Hurricanes squandered a lead of 16-0, so they built an even bigger one — and nearly blew that.
Kameron McGusty scored 19 points and freshman Harlond Beverly came to the rescue off the bench as Miami withstood a late rally by streaky Pittsburgh and won 66-58 Sunday night.
The Panthers had scoring runs of 18-2 in the first half and 17-3 in the second half but never led. After falling behind 46-26 with 14 minutes left they cut the deficit to 51-47, but Miami let them get no closer.
“It was about being poised and calm, and understanding we’ve got a lead, so let’s take smart shots and play hard defense,” McGusty said. “It was a real fun game to play in.”
The Hurricanes (10-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat Pittsburgh for the seventh time in a row. The Panthers (11-5, 2-3) failed to build on their victory Wednesday at North Carolina, which ended a 22-game road losing streak in the ACC.
“It was a disappointing loss for us,” coach Jeff Capel said. “We had an amazing opportunity coming off a big win, and we didn’t have the maturity level necessary as a group to move on to the next play. Until we learn that in our program, we won’t become the consistently good program we’re striving to become.”
Hurricanes point guard Chris Lykes, their leading scorer this season, scored 12 points but fouled out with eight minutes remaining. That left Beverly to run the offense.
“I was so mad at him in the first half,” coach Jim Larranaga said, “because we called a play and he didn’t run it, and turned it over instead. Had Chris Lykes not gotten in foul trouble, there’s a very good chance he doesn’t get back into the game. Then he goes out there and plays like a veteran.”
Beverly finished with six points, five assists and two blocked shots. Twice he fed Sam Waardenburg for big baskets down the stretch.
“Coach was already unhappy, so I couldn’t play any worse,” Beverly said. “I just went in there and tried to play my best, didn’t force anything and I feel like I did a good job.”
Waardenburg finished with 10 rebounds. DJ Vasiljevic scored 13 points for the Hurricanes, who shot 52 percent.
Trey McGowens had 18 points and seven assists for the Panthers, but Justin Champagnie shot 3 for 16, and Xavier Johnson went 1 for 5 with four turnovers.
Pitt shot 36 percent, including 3 for 16 from 3-point range.
Miami raced to a 16-0 lead, allowed the Panthers to pull even at 18 and then rebuilt the lead to 20. The Hurricanes made four of their last five shots over the final 3:28 to seal the win.
“The way we started each half is not worthy of winning,” Capel said. “The basketball gods don’t reward you for that.”
The Panthers committed four turnovers and missed their first seven shots to fall behind early. They made six consecutive shots during their 18-2 spurt, but otherwise went 2 for 21 in the first half.
Miami: Waardenburg and Vasiljevic played 40 minutes for the Hurricanes, who have only eight healthy scholarship players.
Pittsburgh: Bad shooting nights have been a bugaboo for the Panthers, who are 9-1 when they make more than 39%.
Valiljevic is donating $5 for every 3-pointer he makes in conference play to aid wildfire relief in his native Australia.
Pittsburgh plays host to No. 13 Louisville on Tuesday. The Panthers lost 64-46 when the teams met Dec. 6.
Miami plays at North Carolina State on Wednesday. The Hurricanes won the last time they played there two years ago.