'Hawks fade during second half in loss
The Miami University men's basketball team (9-11, 5-4 MAC) was unable to withstand a 15-0 second-half run by Northern Illinois University (10-11, 4-5 MAC) and fell to the Huskies 53-41.
The RedHawks shot just 30 percent from the field and connected on only one of their 15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Freshman forward Joshua Oswald led MU with 10 points. He was the only RedHawk to reach double figures.
Head coach John Cooper said Miami's offensive ineptitude was due to a multitude of factors.
"We didn't do a particularly good job offensively," Cooper said. "We didn't execute on a lot of our sets. But more importantly we turned the ball over and couldn't knock down shots and missed a lot of easy opportunities inside the paint."
The RedHawks' offense often lives or dies on the ability of senior forward Will Felder to make shots. The team's leading scorer was held to a season-low two points on 1-5 shooting.
Cooper said both Felder and the entire team struggled with the length of the Huskies.
"I thought their size was a factor inside," Cooper said. "They keyed in on Will and forced him to shoot over them and he could just never quite get going."
The 'Hawks ended the first half up 27-26. Sophomore guard Willie Moore led all players at the half with nine points and six rebounds. He would not score for the remainder of the game.
MU jumped out to a 37-28 on a 10-2 run to open the second period. Leading the way for the 'Hawks was Oswald, who scored Miami's first eight points of the half.
Oswald said the offense was in synch during that stretch.
"The point guards and guards were getting me the ball in good spots," Oswald said. "I thought the guys did a good job ... of finding me when I was open."
The lead would not last long as the Huskies embarked on a 15-0 run. NIU's junior guard Aaron Armstead hit two triples in a row and added a layup. Sophomore guard Travon Baker nailed a three-pointer to give NIU its first lead of the game 39-37 with 12 minutes remaining.
The Huskies scored two more baskets before a layup by sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight ended the barrage. At that point, the damage was done and the Huskies would not relinquish their lead for the rest of the contest.
Cooper said this result represents a step back for the RedHawks.
"I thought it was a step back," Cooper said. "We seemed to be very lethargic tonight and didn't have the necessary energy to compete with a team that was playing with a desperate mindset on their home court."
The RedHawks will need all the energy they can muster when they hit the road to take on Ohio University (16-5, 6-2 MAC).
OU is led by the scoring duo of junior forward Maurice Ndour and senior guard Nick Kellogg, who both average 15 points per game.
Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. Saturday.
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