Short-handed Miami rallies to beat Temple 60-57 in NIT semis
NEW YORK (AP) Already short-handed, Miami lost its starting center to a concussion just over six minutes into its NIT semifinal.
Leading scorer Sheldon McClellan was still on the court, though, and he and the rest of the Hurricanes made just enough big plays to rally from an 11-point first-half deficit and beat Temple 60-57 on Tuesday.
''We've been like a M.A.S.H. unit,'' coach Jim Larranaga said.
''But somehow, some way,'' he added, ''these guys find a way to stick together.''
With point guard Angel Rodriguez out for the third straight game because of a nagging wrist injury, 7-footer Tonye Jekiri didn't return after he was inadvertently struck in the face.
But McClellan scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, when Miami held the Owls to 22.5 percent shooting. Temple's Quenton DeCosey missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Owls (26-11) went 0 for 15 from beyond the arc after halftime.
''Any other day, they are probably going in,'' Temple freshman Obi Enechionyia said. ''We just didn't make them today.''
After missing six of his first eight shots, McClellan hit two 3s in a row with about 8 minutes left to put Miami (25-12) in front for good. He added 11 rebounds and was the only Hurricanes player in double figures, but his teammates made contributions in plenty of other ways.
''The first half we played kind of passive,'' McClellan said. ''Wasn't being as aggressive as we normally are, and second half we came out and played more aggressive.''
Ja'Quan Newton was steady at the point despite playing with a torn ligament in his thumb, while fellow freshman Omar Sherman energized Miami off the bench with Jekiri out.
Redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett made a huge shot with 34.1 seconds left, snapping a scoring drought of more than three minutes, after Temple had pulled within a point. Davon Reed had seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks while playing shutdown defense against several different Owls.
''Once Tonye went down, Coach said, `We need to do this for Tonye,''' Reed said. ''Everybody dug deep, did what they could and rebounded the ball and defended extremely well.''
The 6-foot-9 Enechionyia often had his way inside with Jekiri out, setting career highs with 17 points and five blocks. He also matched a career best with eight rebounds.
''He's got a great future ahead of him, and he played terrific tonight,'' coach Fran Dunphy said.
Burnett missed the front end of a one-and-one with 13.2 seconds left for the Hurricanes, and they decided not to foul, giving DeCosey the chance to send the game to overtime.
Miami faces Stanford on Thursday, seeking its first NIT title. The Owls were the top seed in the NIT as the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament.
CUMMINGS' CAREER ENDS
Temple leading scorer Will Cummings, who had averaged 22 points in the NIT, shot just 3 for 15 in his final game.
''They made it hard for us to finish in the lane sometimes and they are just very active,'' the senior point guard said.
Miami: Rodriguez and Jekiri had combined for more than 20 points per game, with Jekiri averaging 10.1 rebounds. But the Hurricanes outrebounded Temple 45-41 on Tuesday despite the absence of Jekiri.
Temple: Forward Jaylen Bond limped off with less than 8 minutes left and didn't return. ... The Owls had averaged 7.2 made 3-pointers per game since transfers Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman became eligible in December.