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Men's Basketball completes crazy comeback in win over EMU

Daniel Taylor

For The Miami Student

A 25-point deficit wasn't a problem for the RedHawks, as the Miami University men's basketball team completed one of the most unlikely comebacks in school history Saturday night.

Down by 25 to Eastern Michigan University with with just under six minutes to play in the first half, it looked as if the 'Hawks would fall to 0-2 in conference play.

Junior guard Eric Washington hit two of his biggest shots as a RedHawk in the closing moments of the game, draining two threes in the final 11 seconds.

"We needed a shot," Washington said. "I just tried to step up when my team needed me."

Washington, the heartbeat of the team, was absent during the first half. He recorded zero points, only adding two assists.

Eastern Michigan (11-4 overall, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) ran a unique 2-3 zone that operated more like a 4-1 zone. It was clear EMU wanted to pressure the Miami shooters. There were not many passing lanes and the team was out of sorts.

Senior guard Will Sullivan, who racked up a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds, said the zone was difficult to run in practice.

"They stifled us," Miami head coach John Cooper said. "It's really that simple."

Cooper said the Eagles came out with more passion and effort.

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The lackluster first half by the RedHawks (6-9 overall, 1-1 MAC) combined with the 63 percent shooting from Eastern Michigan built a 25-point lead.

Eagle redshirt sophomore guard Raven Lee went 4 of 5 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc for 12 points.

Senior forward Karrington Ward, the other head of the two-headed monster, added 12.

It looked like Eastern Michigan would be able to coast to a victory.

Much like Wednesday night's game with the University at Buffalo, the RedHawks showed they are a second half team.

The RedHawks gave up the first basket of the second half, a jumper from Lee that pushed the lead to 21. It was the last time the Eagles led by more than 20.

Lee was then absent for much of the second half. He only played for six minutes after the break.

Sullivan got a pass from junior guard Geovonie McKnight and buried it for a three.

The lead was 51-33 when the RedHawks scored nine straight points and cut the lead to nine points. The run ended when redshirt junior center Mike Samuels hit one of two at the charity stripe for the Eagles.

The score was now 52-42 with 14:21 remaining.

The two teams traded blows until the 2:26 mark. Ward had just finished a monster tomahawk dunk and the lead was 72-64 in favor of Eagles.

Miami chipped away at the lead and got to within six points with 27 seconds left. A McKnight floater cut it to four and Ward went only one for two at the line on the next Eagles possession.

Washington then hit a huge three to cut the lead to two.

Following the theme of missed free throws, Ward went to the line with a chance to make it a four-point game with 10 seconds to go. He hit only one. Quickly up the court again the RedHawks went and Washington hit yet another three. He tied the game with only three seconds left, good for a team leading 18 points.

"Coop said, 'Just make a play," Washington said. "And I made a play."

Going into overtime with all the momentum, Miami was without McKnight and junior guard Willie Moore. Both had fouled out.

Junior center LJ Livingston, Jr. connected on a layup and the RedHawks had their first lead of the game. Not to be outdone, redshirt sophomore forward Jodan Price nailed a three for Eastern Michigan and gave them another lead.

Sullivan made two free throws and the only points for the final 3:19. Miami held on for the improbable 82-81 win.

Walking out of the press conference following the game, Sullivan said, "that was fun."