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Miami squanders double-digit lead, falls to Western Michigan

Jordan Herald - Miami Athletics
Jordan Herald - Miami Athletics

The Miami RedHawks (8-7, 1-1 MAC) blew a double-digit second half lead against the Western Michigan Broncos (10-5, 2-0 MAC), and lost 67-62 Saturday. After winning at Bowling Green State in their Mid-American Conference opener, the heartbreaking defeat was Miami's first home loss and first conference loss of the season.

"I felt like that was a game that we should have won," junior guard Darrian Ringo said. "I'm hurt right now that we lost. I've got to get better and we've got to get better as a team."

The RedHawks didn't allow Western Michigan to lead in the first, and even held a double-digit lead with under 10 minutes left in regulation. Trailing 53-42, the Broncos were able to stifle Miami's offense and went on a devastating 21-3 run to down the RedHawks.

"We didn't finish the job," Miami head coach Jack Owens said. "It's a disappointing loss. We had the game under control. We got up there late, but we had a stretch where we settled for some shots and had some breakdowns defensively that were glaring and allowed them to come back."

Miami won the opening tip-off, and took an early 2-0 lead on a mid-range jumper by freshman forward Dalonte Brown during its second possession. The Red and White held that lead for over two minutes before a jumper by junior guard Bryce Moore put Western Michigan on the scoreboard and tied the game at 2-2.

With 15:11 remaining in the first, freshman guard Jalen Adaway converted on a three-point attempt to give Miami a 5-2 lead, one it would hold for the remainder of the half. Nine points from senior guard Thomas Wilder kept the Broncos within striking distance, but the RedHawks were able to hold a 33-27 edge at halftime.

Piggybacking off their strong first half, the RedHawks' offense came out of the halftime break firing. A three pointer by freshman guard Nike Sibande, followed by an and-one layup by Brown pushed Miami's lead to a game-high 12 points at 39-27. After some back and forth play moved the score to 43-38, a RedHawks' run extended their lead back to double-digits, 53-42.

A string of turnovers and empty possessions stalled the Red and White offense and allowed Western Michigan to climb back into the game.

The prolonged scoring drought induced a 21-3 Western Michigan run spearheaded by Moore. After scoring just three points in the first half, Moore came alive in the second, scoring 13 in the half and eight during the 21-3 spurt.

With Western Michigan leading 63-56, Ringo downed two free throws and Adaway made a layup as the 'Hawks tried to claw back. It wasn't enough though, as the Broncos held on for a 67-62 win.

Wilder, who entered averaging 18 points per game, was largely bottled up by Ringo and company. The Broncos' star point guard scored just 13 points on 4-13 shooting from the field and 0-4 from three point land. Five of his 13 points came at the free throw line.

"We did a good job on him [Wilder]," Owens said. "The breakdowns came where we over-helped off Moore."

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Ringo posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but turned the ball over five times.

"I've got to get better down the stretch," Ringo said. "I can't turn the ball over and do dumb stuff like I did."

A rarity for the RedHawks, they didn't record a single fast-break point, compared to Western Michigan's 10. Owens suggested fatigue might have played a role.

"I think we missed some opportunities where we got out in transition," Owens said. "That's on me. I've got to do a better job of getting some guys out, and getting some new bodies in there so we can finish this game off."

Sibande scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds, finishing second on the team in both categories. Logan McLane was held scoreless in the second half after leading the RedHawks in scoring in the first. He led the team with seven rebounds.

Moore's 16 paced the Broncos in scoring, with sophomore guard Reggie Jones leading the team with five assists. Junior guard Josh Davis recorded a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Miami still leads the all-time series against the Broncos 82-57, but Western Michigan has taken nine of the last 10. The next meeting between the two teams will take place in Kalamazoo on Feb. 6.

The RedHawks will look to restore their winning ways when they face Kent State at Millett Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 9. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off and will be available for streaming on ESPN3.