By: Greg Levinsky
MIAMI, Fla. — When Cedric Hankerson walked into the University of Miami’s Watsco Center, he was home for the first time in his collegiate career. The senior guard played in front of his family and friends, and received a raucous ovation when he was introduced during the starting lineups.
Hankerson is a Miami native, a graduate of Coral Reef High School roughly eight miles away from “The U.”
His homecoming was spoiled, however, as the Terriers suffered a 69-54 loss to the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes.
“I was proud of our guys,” Boston University Head Coach Joe Jones said. “We fought. We scrapped.”
With just 11 available players for BU, Miami’s depth and talent was impossible to overcome. Sophomore forward Max Mahoney paced the Terriers with 12 points. He added three offensive rebounds as BU snapped its three-game win streak to move to 3-4.
“He’s a killer, man,” Jones said of Mahoney, who is beginning to make a consistent impact on both ends of the floor. “He had a great battle in the second half. He’s a warrior, I’m proud of him.”
Mahoney netted a career-high 15 points in the Terriers previous victory over the University of New Hampshire and carried his success into Miami. Hankerson, on the other hand, struggled from the field, nailing down one of his nine attempts in the first half. He finished 4-for-17 for the game with 10 points.
The frustration spread throughout the Terriers as freshman guards Walter Whyte and Javante McCoy shot a combined 2-for-14 from the field. Their struggles served as a microcosm of the game for the Terriers, who shot a dismal 32.3 percent from the field. BU never owned a lead.
Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker got his first career start with the injury of sophomore Bruce Brown. The projected NBA lottery pick responded with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting to keep the Hurricanes record a perfect 8-0.
“Walker was terrific, he’s a terrific player,” Jones said. “He made three or four shots; we can’t defend that. Hand up in his face, deep shots. [When] he’s making those types of shots, it’s gonna be tough.”
At six-foot-four and a muscular 192 pounds, Walker posed matchup problems for whoever guarded him. He was too strong for Terrier guards and displayed lightning quickness when guarded by bigger players. Walker had not shot particularly well from beyond the arc in Miami’s previous games, going 3-for-17 over a five-game stretch before Tuesday night. After dismantling the Terriers, Walker connected on eight of his last 11 from downtown.
“If you tell me going into the game he’s going 5-for-7 from three, we’re not winning the game,” Jones said. “He’s the difference.”
The Terriers coughed it up only 13 times, but Miami’s defense forced BU into shots that weren’t in the Terriers game plan. A self-proclaimed defensive minded coach himself, Jones praised Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga, along with the ‘Canes’ tenacity and pressure that they put on BU.
“They are a terrific defensive team. They don’t make mistakes, they’re in the right spots and are committed to playing defense,” Jones said.
The Terriers held Miami to 11 points below its season average. However, they couldn’t find a way to stop the Hurricanes on offense and create points off turnovers.
“Hats off to them, they did a great job,” Jones added.
Sophomore guard DJ Vasiljevic added 15 points for the Hurricanes, who shot over 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc.
The Terriers will stay in Florida and head north on I-95 to Daytona Beach for a tilt against Bethune-Cookman University on Friday night. And even though the Terriers were not favored to win, Coach Jones liked the effort his team came out with against a highly touted Miami squad.
“We started to battle, I think our guys are starting to believe that we can be a very good team,” Jones said. “They’re starting to battle, they’re starting to listen.”