Lawrence leads Miami past Houston Baptist 80-73
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — For more than a month, Miami left the court without a victory. The losing streak finally ended Wednesday night.
Anthony Lawrence scored 17 points and Ebuka Izundu finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Hurricanes defeated Houston Baptist 80-73 to end a four-game skid, the longest in coach Jim Larranaga’s eight seasons at the school.
“We definitely needed to get another win because we wanted to end that losing streak,” Lawrence said. “We just needed to clean up some things.”
The win was Miami’s first since a 78-70 victory over Bethune Cookman on November 17.
“No fun losing, but the guys in practice have been doing a terrific job,” Larranaga said. “They’ve been in good spirits.”
D.J. Vasiljevic’s layup and 3-pointer keyed a 7-0 run that allowed the Hurricanes (6-4) to stretch their lead to 65-54 with 8:42 left to play. Vasiljevic finished with 13 points and Chris Lyke was Miami’s fourth double-figure scorer with 14 points.
The Hurricanes utilized full court pressure defense during the run and Zach Johnson’s consecutive steals resulted in Vasiljevic’s field goals.
“We had reached a point in the game where it’s really going to determine who is ahead in the end,” Larranaga said. “You want to be the team ahead six, eight points in the last minute or two so the other team has to adjust to you.”
The Huskies (3-7) got to within 77-71 on Oliver Lynch-Daniels’ 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining. Johnson responded with a layup with 58 seconds left.
Lynch-Daniels scored a game-high 19 points.
“I was proud of our guys, fighting their way back into it,” Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell said. “It was a hard fought game throughout. They’re obviously so athletic and long but I was proud of the fact our guys kept scrapping and clawing to stay in the game.”
The Huskies trailed by as many as 12 in the first half but stayed within striking distance. Jalon Gates’ 3-pointer 6:34 into the second half gave Houston Baptist its only lead at 48-47.
NO WHISTLES ON IZUNDU
As happy as he was about his scoring and rebounding performance, Izundu also smiled about not getting called for a foul in his 33-minute outing. “Coach always gets on me for fouling,” Izundu said. “The past two weeks, every time I foul in practice I do push-ups so that remind me not to foul. I think that helped in the game and you see how I had no fouls in this game.”
STEPPING UP AGAINST MIAMI:
Lynch-Daniels had his highest scoring and 3-point output of the season. The sophomore guard shot 5-of-7 from behind the arc, surpassing his previous best of 3 of 7 against Louisiana Tech on December 1.
Houston Baptist: Wednesday’s game was the Huskies’ fourth against a Power Five conference school. In addition to Miami, Houston Baptist faced Arizona, Wisconsin and Wake Forest.
“I think it’s important for our guys to be challenged, to face adversity in every way,” Cottrell said. “Our guys are understanding the situation as well as any team I’ve had.”
Miami: The 14 day-gap between games failed to resolve Dewan Hernandez’s eligibility status. The Hurricanes junior center has not played this season as the school and the NCAA review his eligibility in the wake of a federal investigation into college basketball corruption. Hernandez, who changed his name from Dewan Hewell in the offseason, recently retained an attorney to assist him during the review process.
“We’ve been patiently waiting for the news about Dewan,” Larranaga said. “And Dewan’s been terrific, practicing hard. He’s had a great attitude and been a very good leader in practice.”
Houston Baptist: The Huskies will close their non-Southland Conference schedule with a home game against Dallas Christian Dec. 29.
Miami: The Hurricanes will continue their four-game homestand against Florida Atlantic Saturday.