Hurricanes Hold Off Hoos

Sean Singletary ‘s 41 points set a new career high for the senior guard, but the Hoos fell by two points.

Despite a new career-high 41 points from Sean Singletary , the Virginia men’s basketball team squandered a chance to climb from the ACC cellar on Saturday as Miami picked up a hard-fought 95-93 win. The Hurricanes poured in 60 second-half points to keep the 3-10 Cavaliers in 12th in the league; with loss by N.C. State and Boston College on the day, a victory would have lifted UVa out of last place for the first time this season.

“They put a lot of pressure on us offensively and we tried, if anything, to hold down the fort in the first half,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said on the Virginia Sports Network. “They had a huge, aggressive explosion on offense. We gave up 25 points in the first eight minutes [in the second half] and essentially it set a tone psychologically that we couldn’t recover from.”

After trailing 39-35 at intermission, the Canes climbed to the lead near the midpoint of the second half. Then Jack McClinton put on a 2.5-minute scoring display to grow the margin to double figures. McClinton, who finished with 34 points on the strength of 7 for 12 3-point shooting, scored 14 straight to push the lead to 13 points. Running off a variety of screens, often two at a time, the Hurricane guard hit his sixth and seventh 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make the score 68-55. After a pair of Singletary free throws on the other end, McClinton added a 16-foot jumper at 10:35 to keep the advantage at 13 points.

Virginia used several defenders – Singletary, Mamadi Diane , Calvin Baker, and Solomon Tat – on McClinton for the remainder of the game and it limited his scoring chances. He did convert several free throws down the stretch to give Miami just enough points to win.

“As I’ve described him before, he throws daggers,” Leitao said. “Not only he can catch and shoot to make a three, it means more than the three points that go up on the board. He’s a tone-setter with what he does offensively.”

Moments following McClinton’s outburst, Jimmy Graham (career-high 19 points) drove down the middle of the lane for a dunk that capped a 17-3 Miami run and gave the hosts a 72-57 advantage. The sizeable lead left the Cavaliers playing catch-up for the rest of the game and they were unable to fully erase the deficit despite outscoring Miami 36-23 in the final 10 minutes. Not surprisingly, Singletary led the comeback charge, scoring 18 points in the final 8 minutes. That scoring push included 9 in the final 2 minutes as Singletary hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 91-87. Moments later, the Cavs’ star guard drove hard to the basket and missed a shot that Laurynas Mikalauskas put back while being fouled.

Lars Mikalauskas posted 16 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.

The traditional 3-point play cut the Cane lead to 91-90, but Lance Hurdle (10 points) drained a 3-pointer late in the shot clock after Virginia opted to play defense without fouling in the final 40.3 seconds. That trifecta was one of three for Miami that beat the shot clock in the second half.

“It has a lot to do with how they feel. When you feel good about yourself, you have a better change to make those kind of shots,” Leitao said.

The clock-beating moments were part of a good shooting day overall for Miami, which made 54.1% of its shots (33 of 61) and 47.8% of its 3-pointes (11 of 23). The Hurricanes became the seventh conference team to shoot better than 48% this season and the sixth to crack the 50% barrier against the Cavs. UVa is 0-7 in those games.

On Saturday, the Hoos nearly did enough offensively to make up the difference, though. In addition to the 41 points from Singletary (12-of-25 shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers), which tie the senior for 13th in a single game at UVa, the Cavaliers received 44 points from its bench. Mikalauskas poured in 16 points (7-of-10 shooting) and 13 rebounds, while Jamil Tucker added 14 points and 2 assists. Tat also chipped in with 6 points in his first extended action of the season.

In the end, however, UVa couldn’t match Miami’s hot shooting – the visitors made 46.9% of their shots (30 of 64) and just 36.8% of their 3-point attempts (7 of 19). The Cavs did make up ground at the free-throw line where they made 26 of 30 attempts (including an intentional miss by Singletary with .9 seconds to play); Miami made just 18 of 27 freebies.