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Rockets eclipse RedHawks at buzzer

By Win Braswell
On February 7, 2013

After snapping a four-game losing streak, the Miami University men's basketball team had its heart broken in a buzzer-beating 65-64 loss at the University of Toledo in Wednesday night. Miami's record now stands at 8-13, 3-6 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

Freshman guard Reggie Johnson led the RedHawks with 16 points, being critical late in the game with what appeared to be the game-winner with less than five seconds to play. Unfortunately for Miami, redshirt junior guard Quinten Rollins was called for travelling on a steal with 2.8 seconds left, keeping the ball with the Rockets, giving freshman center Nathan Boothe the opportunity he needed to sink the desperation shot as the clock expired.

"Certainly a tough way to lose a game," Head Coach John Cooper said. "But I thought our guys were really pretty good and stuck together and competed their tails off."

The 'Hawks were down at halftime by three points, 35-32, after a first half dominated by Miami, but closed out with hot shooting from deep by Toledo. The Rockets were hot from the field in the first half, draining 5-10 three pointers and shooting over 55 percent.

The second half was started with redshirt junior forward Will Felder closing the deficit to one, but Toledo quickly mustered up a run, taking a 10-point edge with 13 minutes remaining. With all the momentum, Toledo was unable to keep Miami at bay, allowing a 9-0 run to pull the Red and White to within one yet again.

Momentum swung back in favor of Miami on a three pointer by junior forward Jon Harris, giving Miami its first lead since seven and a half minutes to play in the first half. Then, a stunning four-point play opportunity arose, as Johnson sank a three, while being hacked. Despite missing the free throw, the RedHawks made a quick swing of five points, as Rollins hit a shot off an assist by Johnson. One final 6-0 run put the 'Hawks up 64-62 with over three minutes left to play.

The stalemate lasted until 1.4 seconds left to play, as Boothe heaved up a prayer that saw nothing but the bottom of the net.

Aside from Johnson's performance, Miami had redshirt junior guard Allen Roberts, freshman guard Geovonie McKnight and Felder score 15, 11 and 10 points respectively. Overall, Miami outplayed Toledo, shooting 46 percent from the field and 83 percent from the foul line, while yet again outrebounding the Rockets by four, 29-25.

"I've only had one game-winner in the rest of my life, and that was off a free throw," Boothe said. "Nothing compared to this tonight."

Boothe was among the top three scorers for the Rockets, with 13 points as well.

"I'm not going to make any apologies for winning, but we didn't play well defensively tonight," Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "I thought our perimeter defense was very, very poor. Their guards drove our guards. That was the reason we could never put them away."

Trying to get the bad taste of losing out of its mouth, Miami now returns home tomorrow for a showdown with the University of Akron at 1 p.m. Last season's bout saw Miami get romped by 15 points, 74-59. The first place, 18-4, 9-0 Zips are a very balanced team, boasting three players scoring in double figures. Miami's defense will have to play a factor in a win, as the Zips average 75 points a contest, ranking 37th nationally. With a win, Miami could move into fourth place in the MAC East.

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