Nijel Pack scored 21 points and led a clutch comeback late to help the Miami Hurricanes rally to beat the Drake Bulldogs 63-56 in a Midwest Region first-round game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in Albany, N.Y.
The No. 5-seeded Hurricanes (26-7) advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season and will face either No. 4 seed Indiana or No. 13 seed Kent State on Sunday.
No. 12-seed Drake (27-8) came close to winning its first NCAA Tournament game since 1971 thanks to a tremendous effort from Darnell Brodie, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
But the Hurricanes used a 16-1 run over the final 5 minutes and 40 seconds to close out the victory.
Miami turned up the defensive intensity with full-court pressure and did not allow Drake to convert a field goal during that final stretch.
The Hurricanes’ Norchad Omier was uncertain to play until just before tip-off after suffering a right ankle injury last week in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal loss to Duke. Omier finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds and his three-point play put the Hurricanes ahead 47-46 with 8:21 left in the second half.
But then the Bulldogs put together a 9-0 surge highlighted by back-to-back triples from reserve Sardaar Calhoun, who totaled 12 points and six rebounds.
Pack’s jumper with one minute remaining put the Hurricanes ahead 58-56 in a game that had nine ties and nine lead changes.
Although Brodie dominated Miami inside, the Hurricanes benefitted from a subpar performance from Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Tucker DeVries, who scored just three points. DeVries shot 1-for-13 from the field including 1-for-11 from 3-point range.
Isaiah Wong, the ACC Player of the Year, also had a rough game with only five points on 1-for-10 shooting. But Wooga Poplar helped Miami overcome a terrible shooting start with 15 points.
Miami shot just 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) in the first half, and only 17-for-56 (30.4 percent) for the game, but seven steals contributed to 12 Drake turnovers.
–Field Level Media