McClinton’s 17 points leads short-handed Miami over Maryland

Published 1:39 pm Friday, March 9, 2007

AP Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. — 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.