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Miami Defeats La Salle, Stays Undefeated at Home

Miami Defeats La Salle, Stays Undefeated at Home

 CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The No. 24 University of Miami men’s basketball team (8-2, 1-0 ACC) defeated the La Salle Explorers (8-3), 84-77, Saturday afternoon at the Watsco Center to stay perfect at home this season.

“Fran Dunphy is one of the great college coaches,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “It was an honor to coach against him today and I’m very thankful that we ended up winning. His kids are very resilient. We got up by [18] and not only did they not put their heads down, but they kept fighting…Then we showed some resilience, battling back and making some free throws.”

Four Hurricanes recorded double-digit outings on Saturday, paced by junior guard Wooga Poplar, who totaled a career-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Fourth-year junior Norchad Omier tallied his fourth 20-point game of the season with 23 points, while fourth-year junior Nijel Pack reached double-figures for the seventh time this year with 11 points.

Junior guard Matthew Cleveland led Miami on the boards, totaling nine rebounds to go along with 14 points, one rebound shy of his second double-double of the season

The Hurricanes took care of the basketball against La Salle, committing just nine turnovers in the game, 11 less than the last time they took the court.

After starting the game 3-of-8 from the field, the Miami offense found its footing, beginning with a second-chance bucket by Cleveland at the 16:09 mark. The basket was the first of eight straight made field goals by the Hurricanes, who extended their lead to 10, 27-17, midway through the frame.

Three Hurricanes reached double-figures in the first half – Poplar (11), Cleveland (10) and Omier (10) – as Miami shot 57 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes to take a 45-33 lead into the locker room.

Miami extended its lead to 18 with six early points in the second half, but La Salle chipped away at the deficit, stringing together an 11-3 run to cut the lead to single-digits, 64-58, with 6:37 to play.

The teams traded baskets as the time on the clock dwindled, but a 7-of-7 free-throw effort from Omier sealed the 84-77 victory for the Hurricanes.

Miami returns to the Watsco Center on Thursday, Dec. 21 to host Stonehill. Tipoff in Coral Gables is set for 8 p.m. and the game will air on ACC Network.