Lonnie Walker IV drains clutch 3, Miami rallies past Boston College
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The final shot was designed for a teammate but Lonnie Walker IV had different ideas.
And Miami’s heralded freshman guard delivered. Walker’s 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining capped a 14-point comeback and lifted Miami over Boston College 79-78 Saturday afternoon.
“I knew there were a few seconds left, I knew I definitely wanted to take the last shot,” Walker said. “That’s just how I am. I want to be the guy that takes the final shot and I believe in myself more than anyone else.”
The play out of the timeout was set for Miami’s D.J. Vasiljevic to take the tying- or game-leading attempt with additional time. Vasiljevic didn’t have the open look. Walker retrieved the ball, dribbled toward the top of the key and launched the trey above the outstretched hands of Eagles 6-10 forward Luka Kraljevic.
Walker finished with 14 points and sealed the comeback for Miami (20-8, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference).
“When I had it, I realized I had a big (guarding),” Walker said. “Usually bigs are nervous guarding guards so a simple step back definitely caught him off guard, created a little bit of space. Off of that space, I got into my rhythm and game from there.”
The Eagles (16-13, 6-10) couldn’t attempt a game-winning shot as Jerome Robinson failed to retrieve the length-of-the-court inbounds pass.
“I really wasn’t having the best game until that moment,” Lykes said. “When I got the opportunity I was going to go in there and try to help us win. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
The Hurricanes capitalized from errant free throws by the Eagles, who shot 14 of 25, including three crucial misses in the final minute. Nik Popovic failed to convert on his two attempts with 38 seconds left and Kraljevic split his two free throws with 18 seconds remaining.
“We just lost our composure, didn’t make free throws,” Eagles coach Jim Christian said. “We were the leading free throw shooting team in the league two games ago. Offensively, we were really good all game long until the last two minutes.”
Robinson’s two free throws with 6:16 remaining gave the Eagles their largest lead at 67-53. Robinson scored a game-high 30 points and Popovic and Ky Bowman finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively, for Boston College.
Jordan Chatman‘s five points in a 10-2 run midway through the second half keyed the Eagles to their first double-digit lead. His two free throws with 9:52 remaining closed the surge and gave Boston College a 60-48 advantage.
“That was a terrific come-from-behind victory,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We had a very hard time guarding them. They are really a good offensive team. But I loved that we never gave up. We kept battling and eventually somehow went on a roll.
“It looked very bad for us with six minutes to go but the guys did not hang their heads.”
Bowman’s consecutive layups and Robinson’s jumper helped the Eagles finish the first half on a 6-0 run for a 41-39 lead at halftime.
Boston College: the Eagles still have two games remaining to match their most conference wins since the 2012-13 season.
Miami: the Hurricanes reached the 20-win regular season plateau for the sixth time in coach Jim Larranaga’s seven seasons with the team.
HOME SMILES AGAIN
The Hurricanes snapped a two-game home losing skid. The comeback victory avoided the first three-game home losing skid since January 15-25, 2014, when Miami lost consecutive games against Florida State, Duke and Syracuse.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Robinson played 40 minutes for the ninth time this season. Chatman also played the entire game and a fifth-foul disqualification prevented Bowman from another 40-minute performance. Bowman played 39 minutes before fouling out.
Boston College: the Eagles conclude their regular season home schedule against Syracuse on Wednesday.
Miami: the Hurricanes will play at No. 10 North Carolina Tuesday.
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