CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP)Isaiah Wong scored 22 points and had 10 assists as No. 25 Miami beat St. Francis (Pa.) 91-76 on Saturday.
Wooga Poplar added a career-high 20 points while Bensley Joseph and Norchad Omier each scored 14 points for the Hurricanes (11-1), who won their seventh straight. It’s the first week the Hurricanes earned an in-season Top-25 ranking since March 12, 2018, when they landed at 22.
”Last year, I felt we could have been ranked as well,” Joseph said. ”This year, we’re ranked but I feel we’re still the hunters, looking to go further than where we are and trying to build our name up. Keep collecting wins as a team – that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Miami offset a pesky first half by the Red Flash (3-9) and took the lead for good with seven unanswered points to open the second half. Wong’s 3-point-play capped the early run and put Miami ahead 44-37.
In his first career start, Joseph shot 5-of-7 from the field and had seven rebounds and six assists. The sophomore guard started for Nijel Pack, Miami’s third leading scorer, who was sidelined because of an undisclosed illness.
”Just going out there and playing my role, helping my guys win and doing anything to win,” Joseph said. ”Credit to my teammates, they were finding me and shots were falling.”
Poplar’s dunk with 12:28 remaining gave the Hurricanes their first double-digit lead at 59-48.
”Our defense picked up to start the second half,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. ”We were able to push it into double figures pretty quickly and keep it in double figures the remainder of the half.”
Wong finished his third straight game with 20 or more points. He is 27-of-48 from the field with 24 assists during the stretch.
”He keeps getting better and better,” Larranaga said. ”Today, he played the point a lot. We moved him to the point because he’s great at finding the open man and great at making the open shot.”
Josh Cohen followed a 40-point outing against Hawaii Sunday and scored 30 points for St. Francis while Landon Moore finished with 25 points.
Behind a combined 17 points from Moore and Cohen, the Red Flash led 20-14 in the opening 10 minutes. Moore’s 3-point play with 46 seconds left put St. Francis ahead 37-35 before Wong’s steal and fast-break dunk tied it at halftime.
”Miami’s obviously a talented basketball team – a Top 25 team – but I liked the way we responded,” Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel said. ”We talked about baby steps and to compete in a game like that. I thought we played hard and played together.”
St. Francis: The loss extended the Red Flash’s road slide to six. It is the longest road skid since the 2018-19 team lost its first seven.
Miami: Wong, a fourth-year junior guard, was recently named Oscar Robertson Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association after 36- and 23-point outings in Miami’s previous games. Wong already has received five player of the week honors.
St. Francis: Visits Robert Morris on Wednesday.
Miami: Hosts No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25