The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team began the season on a five-game winning streak; then games had a sour taste after four straight games of losing. That ended with the help of Anthony Lawrence leading the way.
Lawrence scored 17 points, and Ebuka Izundu finished with 15 points inside in the paint along with 11 rebounds as the Hurricanes defeated the Houston Baptist Huskies 80-73 to end the skid, the longest in coach Jim Larranaga’s eight seasons at the school.
The Hurricanes began the game a perfect 4-4 from three-point land. They led by as many as 12-points in the first half. Huskies gained their first lead of the game 48-47 with 13:20 to play in the second half.
Larranaga made the defensive call for the full court press. The pressure led to D.J. Vasiljevic’s layup and 3-pointer for a 7-0 run that allowed the Hurricanes (6-4) to stretch their lead to 65-54 with 8:42 left to play.
“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.”
Miami forward Dewan Hernandez’s eligibility status is still up in the air. 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.”
The beat goes on as The Huskies will close their non-Southland Conference schedule with a home game against Dallas Christian Dec. 29. The Hurricanes will continue their four-game homestand against Florida Atlantic Saturday.