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Red and White rally comes up short against Flyers

Junior forward Kalif Wright tries to get an off-balance shot to fall during Miami's 66-62 loss to the University of Dayton Wednesday night. Wright is averaging 3.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

Photo by Connor Moriarty, The Miami Student

By Jack Brewer, For The Miami Student

The Miami University men's basketball team trimmed a 16-point second half deficit down to three late, but lost to the University of Dayton 66-62 in a thriller at Millett Hall.

The RedHawks (2-5) came out aggressive in the first half by pushing the tempo and working the ball into the paint for good looks at the basket. The team scored all of its first 10 points in the paint. Junior guard Willie Moore led the RedHawks in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Junior point guard Eric Washington scored 12 points on 4 of 7 from the field and junior forward Chris Bryant finished with 10 points, shooting 3 for 5 from the field. Washington, who committed five turnovers in the first half, bounced back in the second half to contribute to the team's effort.

"The turnovers were just unfortunate," Washington said. "Coach always tells me just to slow down and stay in control of the basketball."

Pacing the way offensively for the Flyers (5-1) were Kendall Pollard, Devon Scott and Jordan Sibert. Pollard led all scorers with 15 points, shooting 6 for 7 from the field. Scott turned in a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Sibert scored 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting from the field.

At halftime, the RedHawks trailed the Flyers 31-23. The RedHawks were plagued by turnovers in the first half, giving the ball up 11 times.

"The first half really hindered us," head coach John Cooper said. "Eleven turnovers in the first half and I think they had 26 points off of our turnovers."

In the second half, the Flyers led by as many as 16 points when Ryan Bass converted a lay-up while he was fouled, hitting following free throw to extend the score to 45-29. Over the next five minutes of the game, Willie Moore scored eight of the next 10 points for the RedHawks as part of a 10-1 run that cut the Dayton lead to just seven with 7:52 remaining.

"I was just moving without the ball, taking and hitting the open shots that I saw," Moore said.

Moore had struggled in recent games with frequent turnovers and minimal production.

"It's important to always be confident in your shot," Moore said. "I'm always confident in my shot no matter how I'm playing."

With a minute to go, the Flyers led 61-52, sporting a comfortable nine-point lead. Will Sullivan, who had been quiet all night, hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to trim the lead to six. After the Flyers missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity at the free-throw line, Washington hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to just three.

Despite the late surge, the RedHawks came up short thanks to clutch free throw shooting late by the Flyers.

The RedHawks are back on the court Saturday when they travel to IPFW, with the opening tip set for 7 p.m.