RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Sheldon McClellan gave Miami its first lead of the game with just over a minute left and the Hurricanes rallied from 18 points down to beat Richmond 63-61 on Tuesday to advance to the NIT semifinals.
Miami (24-12) heads to New York's Madison Square Garden to face the winner of the Louisiana Tech-Temple game on March 31.
McClellan scored seven straight points, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 2:04 left and his go-ahead short jumper with 1:01 remaining. Davon Reed added a pair of free throws to give the Hurricanes a 61-55 lead with 26 seconds left.
"We've been in this situation so many times this year," said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, who is very familiar with the Spiders from his time as coach of their Colonial Athletic Association rival George Mason. "Our second game was at Florida and we were down 15 in the second half and we came back and won."
Miami trailed 30-18 at halftime against the Spiders.
"I told my team at halftime we just needed to play harder and faster and attack more than we did in the first half," Larranaga said. "We did not get a single free throw in the first half. In the second half, it was still much the same for about the first 10 minutes, and then finally we started to attack more."
The Spiders led most of the game and used a pair of 3-pointers to spread out their lead to 36-18 early in the second half. But a streak of Richmond fouls and mostly accurate free throw shooting allowed the Hurricanes to slowly close the gap as Richmond's offense sputtered in the face of a withering Miami press.
McClellan felt the energy change in the arena as the Hurricanes cut deeper into the Spiders' lead.
"Once we made some big plays and got some turnovers, that kind of got the crowd out of it," McClellan said. "That crowd was fantastic. They feed off their crowd a lot, and I feel like we took their momentum the last two minutes."
McClellan led Miami (24-12) with 16 points. Davon Reed had 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Hurricanes dominated the glass 47-32, with 17 offensive boards.
Richmond was led by Terry Allen with 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Spiders made just 24 percent of their 3-pointers, 10 notches lower than their average.
"We played very well and with great energy," said Richmond coach Chris Mooney. "Obviously we had a lot of opportunities with a nice lead that we didn't capitalize on enough. The biggest, the two biggest stats would beMiami's offensive rebound numbers, which were far too big for us to overcome, and our 3-point shooting."
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