Norchad Omier snuffs late Pitt rally as Miami survives

Norchad Omier scored 18 points – including two dunks and two 3-pointers – and added 10 rebounds and three blocks as the host Miami Hurricanes defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 72-68 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday.

Miami (14-6, 5-4) led by 19 points in the second half before Pitt cut it to two in the final minute. But Omier blocked a shot by Jaland Lowe with five seconds left in regulation.

Miami freshman Kyshawn George grabbed the rebound and made two free throws to end the game. The Hurricanes improved to 10-2 at home. It was also Miami’s first home win since Jan. 3 following consecutive losses.

Over their past 29 games, the Hurricanes are 26-3 at home.

Miami got 17 points each from Wooga Poplar and Nijel Pack.

George scored 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the last second of the shot clock. He nearly made a running 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, but it bounced off the back rim.

The Hurricanes played without starter Matthew Cleveland (hip injury), who missed his first game of the season.

Pittsburgh (12-8, 3-6) had its three-game road win streak snapped, which included a win over Duke.

Blake Hinson led the Panthers with 21 points, Lowe added 17 and Ishmael Leggett had 14.

But the Panthers, the ACC’s second-best rebounding team, were beaten on the boards by the smaller Hurricanes, 41-37.

Miami, which led 40-29 at the break, played an excellent first half, allowing no second-chance points and building a 22-17 rebound advantage.

Thanks in part to an 11-1 run midway through the half, Miami stretched its lead to 16 points. Pack led all first-half scorers with 12 points, and Omier had 10 points and no fouls, which is big for Miami since he’s their only experienced post player.

Pitt was led by Hinson’s 11 first-half points.

The Hurricanes stretched their second-half lead to 19 points, but Pitt came back to cut its deficit to 66-60 on Lowe’s corner 3-pointer that bounced off the rim, the backboard and the rim again.

Lowe then made two free throws and a second-chance 3-pointer to cut Miami’s lead to 70-68 with 45.5 seconds left.

After a Poplar miss, Pitt called timeout with 10.3 seconds left, but Omier’s block on Lowe’s way up proved to be the key play of the game.