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Miami rides torrid first half shooting to down Kent State

Macy Whitaker - The Miami Student
Macy Whitaker - The Miami Student

Last weekend's second half collapse against Western Michigan seemed to strike a chord with the Miami RedHawks as they played inspired basketball to beat Kent State 80-69 at Millett Hall on Tuesday.

"We most definitely came out with a chip on our shoulder," Miami freshman guard Nike Sibande said. "That last game kinda left a bad taste in our mouth, so coming out this game, we had a point to prove."

The 'Hawks offense came out blazing in the first half, as they shot 54.1 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three during the half. They never trailed in the contest.

"I thought we came out and competed," head coach Jack Owens said. "We came out in the first half and executed defensively and offensively. Our guys all played well together. They kept them out of transition and anytime you can get a win in league play, you take it."

Miami corralled the opening tip and scored four straight points on two layups by freshman forward Dalonte Brown to start the game. A made free throw by junior center Adonis De La Rosa finally put Kent State on the scoreboard after two and a half scoreless minutes.

After both teams made layups to move the score to 6-3, senior forward Logan McLane hit a three off an assist by junior guard Darrian Ringo to spark a 30-5 Miami run. Seven RedHawks scored during the spurt, with the Red and White taking a 36-8 lead. Two De La Rosa free throws found twine to bring the RedHawks back to earth.

"That [30-5 run] was real fun," Sibande said. "Playing together as a team and just seeing everybody excited and happy, jumping and all of the positive energy. It gave us a lot of energy as a team."

The teams traded baskets for much of the final six minutes as Miami took a 48-25 lead into halftime.

Ringo starred in the first half, scoring an efficient 12 points on 5-6 from the field and 2-2 on three point attempts. He also added three assists and two rebounds.

Kent State started the second half with the ball, but came up empty on its first possession after Sibande blocked a jump shot and then forced a turnover.

The 'Hawks scored on their first two possessions of the half -- first on a Brown free throw and then a McLane layup -- to push their lead to 26 with 18:49 left in regulation.

With Miami leading 60-35, the Golden Flashes went on a 7-0 run capped off by De La Rosa converting an and-one layup to cut Kent State's deficit under 20 points at 11:03.

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Over the next nine minutes, Kent State rode a 9-11 shooting streak to cut Miami's lead to nine with 1:40 remaining. Sophomore forward Bam Bowman went one of two at the charity stripe to boost MU's lead back to double-digits, but it didn't last long as KSU senior guard Kevin Zabo made a layup to bring the Golden Flashes within eight.

That was the closest Kent State got as the RedHawks ended the game on a 5-2 run and sealed an 80-69 victory.

Overall, Miami shot 51.8 percent (29-56) from the field and 40.0 percent (10-25) on three pointers for the contest.

The RedHawks featured two double-digit scorers, including Sibande, who finished with a game-high 17 points on 6-17 shooting. The Indianapolis native also converted three of his 10 three point attempts.

Darrian Ringo posted 16 points and dished out 7 assists. Logan McLane finished with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.

McLane was matched up with Kent State's 7-foot center Adonis De La Rosa for much of the game. De La Rosa was held to 16 points -- half of which came at the free throw line -- after scoring a career-high 24 in his last game versus Central Michigan.

Coach Owens praised the Miami bigs and spoke on how crucial they were in guarding De La Rosa.

"It's good to have the luxury of having those bigs that you can throw at people," Owens said, "and we have that. We have that at the five spot where we can go Logan, Bam, Precious and Darius, however that slices out."

This was a big win for the RedHawks as they defeated the defending Mid-American Conference champions and moved to 2-1 in conference play. Miami leads the all-time series against the Golden Flashes 91-51.

After splitting its two-game homestand, Miami returns to the road this Saturday Jan. 13 to take on Buffalo. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip-off and will be available for streaming on ESPN3.