Furious Second-Half Rally by NCCU Falls Short at Miami in NIT < All News
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The National Invitation Tournament is experimenting with a 30-second shot clock. If the event tested a 41-minute game clock, the outcome of North Carolina Central University’s first round NIT game against the University of Miami may have been different.

Instead, NCCU’s furious second-half comeback fell short and Miami held on for a 75-71 win on Tuesday night inside BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

The upset-minded Eagles tallied the first six points of the second half to turn a nine-point halftime deficit into a slim 34-31 Miami advantage.

The Hurricanes seemed to have an answer for every challenge NCCU threw at them, extending their lead to as much as 14 points, 59-45, at the 6:43 mark.

Miami’s cushion was 13 points with 5:30 remaining when NCCU began its charged, posting a 17-6 run during the next five minutes to trim the gap to 69-67 with 27 seconds left. But the Hurricanes hit all eight pressure free throws in the final minute to escape with the four-point win.

In fact, Miami sank 23 of 25 from the charity stripe and connected on 8 of 16 from long distance.

NCCU (25-8) shot 53.1 percent from the floor (26-for-49), including 47.1 percent from three-point land (8-for-17), and committed fewer turnovers than the Hurricanes. Against a bigger Miami lineup, the Eagles scored more points in the paint (28-24), more second-chance points (11-6) and more points off of turnovers (21-12).

NCCU senior point guard Nimrod Hilliard kept the Eagles close in the first half with 17 of his 19 points coming before the break.

NCCU senior forward Jordan Parks sparked the second-half run by scoring 23 of his game-high 25 points after intermission. The Queens, New York native hit 11 of 13 shots from the field, including his only three-point try, and a pair of free throws, to go along with seven rebounds.

The Eagles out-scored Miami 46-41 in the second half.

Miami had four players to net double figures, topped by Manu Lecomte with 18 points off the bench.

NCCU’s historical campaign, with the Eagles posting a perfect regular-season conference record for the first time in school history, is now in the record books.

The Eagles will lose four starters going into next season with their sights set on winning the MEAC regular-season title for a third straight year.

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