Miami 67, No. 17 Maryland 62

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—For at least one day, Miami’s troubled season was forgotten.

Jack McClinton scored 17 points, Brian Asbury added 12 and the undermanned Hurricanes upset No. 17 Maryland 67-62 in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday.

The ‘Canes may have been short a few bodies—they dressed eight scholarship players because of injuries and a suspension—but they outhustled and outworked the Terrapins for their fourth win in the last 14 games.

“This team has really found a way,” said Miami coach Frank Haith. “I really, truly believe that there’s going to be some good things happen for this ballclub, whether it be this year or next year, because of all the things we’ve had to go through.”

Miami nearly added to its mounting problems.

The 12th-seeded Hurricanes almost squandered a 15-point lead in the second half, but McClinton and Asbury combined to make five consecutive free throws in the final 34 seconds to snap the Terrapins’ seven-game winning streak.

Miami (12-19) advanced to face fourth-seeded Boston College in the second round Friday. Maryland (24-7) will spend a week regrouping before playing in the NCAA tournament.

“It better wake us up and get us refocused,” said Terrapins guard D.J. Strawberry, who scored 13 points. “We have to start playing like we’ve been playing or next week will be like this week—one and done.”

Maryland, the tournament’s fifth seed, trailed 44-29 early in the second half and chipped away at the deficit with a tenacious full-court press that forced Miami into several turnovers.

The Hurricanes worked the clock for much of the second half and seemed content to try to hold onto the lead. It nearly backfired when James Gist’s one-handed slam made it a one-point game, 63-62.

But Asbury made four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. He was 8-of-9 from the line and added seven rebounds.

“There was no doubt in my mind they were going to make a run,” Haith said. We just had to have some poise and make some plays.”

The victory was huge for Miami, which had lost three in a row and 11 of the previous 13. They Hurricanes have played much of the season short-handed, and the conference tournament was no different as they were again without starters Denis Clemente and Anthony King.

Clemente was suspended for the third straight game for an undisclosed violation of team rules. King, who had been the league’s top rebounder, has missed most of the season with a wrist injury.

Fabio Nass (knee) and Adrian Thomas (abdomen) also are out for the season, and combined with Raymond Hicks’ six-game suspension, Miami had been down to seven scholarship players in recent games. Hicks returned last week against Florida State.

“We never gave up,” McClinton said. “We knew that we might have had a bad season, but we knew we had a tournament to play in. We just wanted to come out and play hard and good things would happen.”

Dwayne Collins had 12 points and 12 boards for the Hurricanes. Jimmy Graham had nine points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. But the biggest reason Miami staved off a season-ending loss was the team’s 19 offensive rebounds— which gave the ‘Canes enough second-chance shots to build the big lead.

“It’s unacceptable the way we got pounded on the boards,” Strawberry said.

Mike Jones led the Terrapins with 15 points, and Gist added 12. Ekene Ibekwe had eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots before fouling out with 2:01 remaining.

Not only did Maryland give up too many offensive rebounds, the team struggled from the field. The Terrapins shot 39 percent from the floor and 17 percent (3-of-18) from 3-point range. They also missed 11 free throws.

“We had no patience whatsoever to attack their zone,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “Basketball is a great game to learn from. We’ll learn from today and be a better team next week.”

Eric Hayes had a shot to tie the game with about 10 seconds to play, but his 3-pointer came up short. Greivis Vasquez got the rebound and forced up a desperation shot that missed the rim entirely.

And with that, Miami was celebrating—a welcome change.

“Any time you can win in this setting—this is the greatest tournament in the country—obviously it’s very special,” Haith said.

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