No. 13 Miami’s goal: No half-measures vs. Navy (Nov 12, 2017)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami coach Jim Larranaga is hoping his team starts the game the way it finished its opener when the No. 13 Hurricanes host Navy on Sunday afternoon in the Watsco Center.

If they play the way they did in the first half of their 77-45 win over Gardner-Webb, the Hurricanes (1-0) could be in for long afternoon.

“Hopefully, we’ll be sharper on Sunday,” Larranaga said late Friday night after the Hurricanes outscored the Bulldogs 50-22 in the second half after leading only 27-23 at the intermission.

The Midshipmen (1-0) have had only one winning record, a 19-14 mark in 2015-16, over the last eight years and were 16-16 last season. But with a veteran lineup led by 6-foot-4 senior guards Bryce Dulin and Shawn Anderson (a combined 33 points), they showed this may not be a typical, overmatched academy team with their 71-62 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday night.

It was Navy’s first triumph over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since a win over Wake Forest on Dec. 30, 1971.

“Now we’ll get Miami’s attention,” Navy coach Ed DeChellis said. “They’re 13th in the country, and I’m sure we’ll get their attention. We’ll get their best effort on Sunday afternoon.”

The Hurricanes struggled early against Gardner-Webb, falling behind 7-0 in the early minutes and never getting their offense in sync against the visitor’s zone defense until going on a 14-0 run at the start of the second half. They shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half, 63.6 in the second.

Larranaga said the issue wasn’t that Garder-Webb’s zone caught his team by surprise.

“What was surprising was that our guys didn’t respond to it like we should have,” he said. “Guys were hesitant. Maybe it’s first-game jitters because we missed a bunch of free throws early. Sometimes the adrenalin is flowing you can’t calm yourself down.

“But you saw the difference in the second half when we were a little bit more connected.”

While Gardner-Webb wasn’t able to cope with Miami’s defensive intensity in the second half — the Bulldogs were only 10 of 32 from the field in the period — Navy may be more up to the challenge.

The Midshipmen showed a special grittiness in the win over Pitt, closing out the game on a 5-0 run after the Panthers had trimmed a 15-point deficit midway through the second half down to four points with under two minutes to go.

“We’ve been in that position before,” said Dulin, who led Navy with 18 points. “We’ve been up and know what it’s like to have teams come back and make a run. That’s what basketball is, a game of runs.

“They hit a couple big shots and credit to them, but we just kept coming together knowing that we were going to stick to the plan, we’re going to stay together, don’t get rushed, don’t get tight, but just keep playing.

“Luckily, we came up with the win.”