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RedHawks rally for first victory in comeback

For The Miami Student

Published: Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 10:12

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Ben Taylor | The Miami Student

Miami University senior guard Quinten Rollins finishes at the rim with a finger roll. Rollins put up 11 points in Miami’s 76-71 comeback victory over IPFW.

The Miami University men’s basketball team (1-4) earned its first win of the season in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to stun the Mastodons of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (6-4) 94-87 Tuesday night.

Senior forward Will Felder scored a career-high 26 points, with 17 of them during MU’s second half surge. Felder was joined in the second half by senior guard Will Sullivan who keyed the RedHawks’ run with a career-high 23 points, who also put up 17 of them in the second half.

The Mastodons sank 12 of their 17 attempts from three-point range in the first half on their way to compiling a 52-36 lead. Senior guard Kevin Harden banked in a running three from about 30 feet out as the horn sounded, a fitting end to a first half in which it seemed the Mastodons couldn’t miss from deep, as several balls went in both off the glass and after friendly bounces on the rim.

“[They] shot the ball unbelievably well in the first half,” head coach John Cooper said. “Not only did they make their open ones, they made their contested ones … You’re saying to yourself, ‘How do we make sure that we keep the team in it?’ because we hope and believe that they can’t shoot that ball as well in the second half.”

The RedHawks came out of the locker room with a lot more energy and it showed on the court. MU employed a full court press which took the Mastodons out of their rhythm, and the threes that IPFW was hitting in the first half were not falling as often, as they connected on only three of their 11 three-point attempts.

The RedHawks had been playing catchup all game until a Sullivan three-pointer with 3:48 remaining on the clock gave MU a 79-77 lead. The teams traded the lead before sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight nailed a three-pointer to give the ’Hawks a 88-87 lead with 1:01 left.

Miami would not surrender that lead as IPFW was forced to foul and the ’Hawks buried all six of their free throws in the closing seconds.

Sullivan, coming off the bench for the first time this season, finished 8-9 from the field, including 4-5 from three. He scored 15 points in a five-minute stretch in the second half which turned the tide of the game.

“Once I saw that first one go in … my confidence just kept going higher and higher,” Sullivan said. “It was just one of those nights. I’m grateful; I was blessed to have it.”

Cooper said he was happy for the hard-working Sullivan.

“When you do what he does and you have his habits, you want him to have a good game,” Cooper said. “Certainly he’s not the only one on the team who works hard, but you sincerely feel that he’s selfless about this whole thing. It is literally about what is best for the team and the program.”

The RedHawks go for their second win of the season when they hit the road to take on Evansville University (5-3). The Purple Aces are on a three-game losing skid. The primary challenge for MU will be to contain sophomore guard D.J. Balentine. Balentine is fourth in the nation in scoring, averaging 25.3 points per game. The next leading scorer on the team is sophomore guard Adam Wing, who averages 10.8 points per game.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Saturday.

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