Miami head coach Jim Larranaga walked down his bench offering high-fives to his team after a dominant performance in the Hurricanes' 78-48 win over Pacific in the second round of the NCAA Tournament East Regional.
“You have to play well to win in this tournament, and that’s what we did today,” Larranaga said.
The Hurricanes started hot and kept the pressure on Pacific, who never got into any sort of rhythm on either end of the court. The Tigers trailed 40-19 at the half and could not stop the Hurricanes from enforcing their will both inside the lane and from behind the three-point line.
“We waited four years to be here,” said senior center Reggie Johnson. “I told Durand (Scott) earlier after I gave him a big hug, ‘We’re not done yet’.”
Durand Scott led all scorers with 21 points, going 5-of-8 from three and cracking a wide smile with each successive shot he made. Point guard Shane Larkin finished an assist shy of a double-double with nine helpers to go with his 10 points.
“We just stuck to the game plan,” Larkin said. “Everyone shot the ball pretty well today, and when we shoot that well we’re tough to beat.”
Miami shot 55-percent from three-point range and held a 41-28 rebounding advantage over the Tigers. Senior forward Travis Fulton began to heat up late in the second half and finished with 18 points for the Tigers, but only one other player scored more than nine points for Pacific.
The game marked the end of Pacific head coach Bob Thomason’s 42-year coaching career, and although he was disappointed his team did not play better he was grateful to have an opportunity to play Miami on such a big stage.
“I’ll be rooting for them the rest of the time to win the National Championship,” Thomason said. “You want to go out against a great team.”