It’s a pretty disappointing sight in a college game when a home team gets rolled over on its home floor. Worse than that is when even the band looks unhappy about it.
Miami players and coaches chalked up their 76-54 Tuesday loss to Northern Kentucky as just one of those nights where nothing seemed to go right — and not just in the final score.
“A lot of shots that we miss, we’d normally knock them down,” junior forward Dalonte Brown said. “It wasn’t anything to do with their defense … just wasn’t our night.”
This marks the third loss in a row for the RedHawks, and the third time this season where a Horizon League opponent has knocked them around on the court.
Things were looking up when Brown opened up the scoring for Miami, giving the RedHawks their first eight points. The 8-2 lead was quickly snatched and turned into a six-point Norse advantage, but the score kept relatively in hand with the backcourt of junior Nike Sibande and sophomore Mekhi Lairy getting good shots and going to the charity stripe.
At the half, the RedHawks trailed by only seven.
And then Dantez Walton happened.
It feels wrong to say someone had a “quiet” 32 points, but that is just what Northern Kentucky’s senior forward did. With Walton’s 20 second-half points, the Norse easily pulled away and handed the RedHawks their fourth loss.
Miami failed to click all game. That's been a theme with not everyone being fully available.
Coach Jack Owens has juggled lineups after injuries to five players since the season started, which isn't helping with other issues, such as the lack of a primary playmaker in the starting lineup. Owens tried to fix this issue by inserting Lairy (who leads the team in assists) at the one-spot, only to have Lairy injure his ankle in the first half. He did return in the second half.
“We haven’t been able to practice full-go with everyone just yet, so that might be part of the rhythm and what is going on offensively,” Owens said. “At the end of the day, we have enough guys to figure out how to win and that’s on me. I have to do a better job of figuring things out.”
The bigger concern that leapt off of the final stat sheet, however, was Nike Sibande’s shot totals (or lack thereof). The star of the RedHawks’ backcourt took only seven shots for a season-low five points. Sibande wasn’t alone in his troubles putting the ball in the cup, but his offensive input going M.I.A. hurt the ’Hawks the most.
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“They corralled Nike,” Owens said. “It wasn’t a deal tonight where we were just taking bad shots. I thought our guys had some rhythm threes that just didn’t go in. But [Nike] is a guy that will figure it out, and he’ll be able to score.”
Clearly, the Norse did their homework on the hopeful NBA prospect and constantly threw double or triple teams on Sibande, forcing four turnovers.
The lone bright spot for the RedHawks was Brown, who continued his great play with 17 points and seven rebounds.
The Norse had their two stars, Walton and senior guard Tyler Sharpe, combine for 50 of the team’s 76 points.
The RedHawks will look to flip the script Saturday, as they travel to meet a surging Evansville team that knocked off the formerly top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats a few weeks ago. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m.