Miami 69, Boston College 68
MIAMI (AP) _ Constantin Popa’s sweeping hook and Steven Edwards’ steal and driving dunk clinched a 69-68 Miami victory over Boston College Saturday night.
Popa, a 7-foot-3 center, dropped in several clutch hook shots with both hands, including a game-clinching eight-footer with 23 seconds left to give the Hurricanes their school-record third consecutive Big East victory.
``When he shoots that shot, it’s up to him,″ said Boston College coach Jim O’Brien. ``There’s no defense for it. You might as well get off the floor when he’s taking that shot.″
Miami, 8-5 and 3-3 in the conference, recently snapped a 29-game Big East road losing streak with victories over St. John’s and Providence.
``This was a very important game for us,″ said Miami coach Leonard Hamilton.
The Eagles, 6-8, dropped their sixth straight game and are 0-7 in the Big East.
Boston College’s Danya Abrams, leading scorer in the conference, scored 18, while Marc Molinsky added 14 and senior forward Kevin Hrobowski scored a career-high 19.
Hrobowski followed a bank shot score with a 3-pointer to cut Miami’s lead to 63-61 with 2:32 remaining.
The 7-foot-3 Popa then rolled in a lefty hook to give Miami a 65-61 lead with about 2 minutes remaining. Two free throws by Abrams of the Eagles and an offensive rebound putback by Keenan Jourdan tied the game at 65 with 54 seconds left.
Popa, who scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, tossed in a sweeping hook with 23 seconds left to lift Miami to a 67-65 edge. Edwards had 17 points and Mitchell Dunn added 12 for the Hurricanes.
``It was a clean rolling hook,″ Popa said. ``Tonight, the hook went in and I took it every chance I had.″
Following an Eagles’ timeout, Edwards came from the weak side, stole the ball from Molinsky, and drove the length of the floor for the decisive stuff with 4 seconds left.
``It was a great play by Steve at the end,″ Hamilton said. ``We knew what they were going to do.″
Molinsky, who was four of seven from 3-point range, nailed a wide-open 3-pointer with a second left but Miami successfully brought the ball in bounds as time expired.
Molinsky’s consecutive 3-pointers had given Boston a 46-45 lead with 11:52 remaining in the game, the Eagles’ first advantage since leading 16-14 in the first half. Miami led 36-30 at halftime.
The Eagles, who made it to the final eight in the NCAA tournament last year before losing to Florida at the Miami Arena, are struggling.
``No one on this team has ever been on a losing team except for the coaches,″ O’Brien said. ``It’s new to all of them. That’s why I have to keep them positive.″