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'Hawks come up short against Western

By Zach Maciaszek
On February 18, 2014

The Miami University men's basketball team (9-14, 5-7 MAC) is rapidly falling out of the Mid-American conference (MAC) race after losing to Western Michigan University (16-8, 9-3 MAC) 68-57.

The loss marked the fourth defeat in a row for the RedHawks.

Senior forward Will Felder and sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight each scored 12 points to lead Miami.

The 'Hawks allowed four Broncos to reach double figures in scoring. Leading the way was junior guard Austin Richie with 20 points. Senior center Shayne Wittington also gave MU all they could handle on the inside, accounting for 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

"Wittington was obviously a factor today," head coach John Cooper said. "He really bothered us, whether it was scoring inside or whether he was taking it when our guys were driving and blocking shots."

It was an ugly game on both sides, as the teams collectively committed 39 turnovers (Miami with 19, WMU with 20) and struggled to shoot the ball. The RedHawks shot just 37.5 percent from the field on the night.

Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins said he knew his team would struggle to control the ball against Miami's pressure defense, but he was pleased with the way they responded on the defensive end.

"We knew they were going to turn us over," Hawkins said. "They lead the league in steals. We've seen them play against outstanding teams and they've forced steals. That's what they do."

The 'Hawks played catch-up in the first half, as the Broncos stormed out to a lead and for the most part maintained it. The gap reached as high as 10 points with 1:33 remaining in the opening half, 26-16. Miami was able to close it to with six points, 29-23 heading into the locker room.

In the second half, the RedHawks continued to chip away at the Western Michigan lead. MU took the lead, 43-42 on a 3-pointer by senior guard Will Sullivan with 8:47 to go in the game. It was the only time that the 'Hawks would have the lead the rest of the way.

Cooper said Miami was unable to close out the game after they had fought back to take the lead.

"From that point on we had some really mental errors," Cooper said. "Whether it was turnovers, whether it was poor decisions, and those kinds of things. It's probably been the story of our year as far as understanding what it takes to win, understanding the things that you have to do down the stretch to be successful."

After MU took the lead, the Broncos responded with six straight points. A McKnight jumper at 5:52 pulled the RedHawks within three, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the game.

Rebounding continues to be a problem for the 'Hawks, as it has all season. Miami was outrebounded 38-25.

Miami hopes to right the ship Wednesday when it hosts Kent State University (14-11, 5-7 MAC), the beginning of a three-game home stand.

The Golden Flashes are coming to Oxford off an 83-75 win over Central Michigan University.

They do not have anyone that stands out offensively, as their top three scorers all average less than twelve points a game. Leading the Flashes in scoring is junior guard Derek Jackson with 11.4 points.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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