Despite the loss against the Mid-American Conference’s best team, DeUnna Hendrix was still proud of her squad.
“I was really, really proud of them, because we fought,” Hendix, Miami’s women’s basketball head coach, said. “And that’s been the message.”
The RedHawks’ effort wasn’t enough, as they fell to Central Michigan, 99-87, Saturday at Millett Hall. With the win, the Chippewas remain undefeated in the MAC.
Miami started strong, scoring the game’s first nine points in the opening minutes.
Senior forward Savannah Kluesner had it going early for the RedHawks, scoring in the post and finding the open player when she was double-teamed. Kluesner had eight of the team’s 18 first-quarter points.
A buzzer-beating three from redshirt junior forward Abbey Hoff gave Miami an 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Despite the early deficit, Central Michigan wasn’t fazed.
A 3-pointer from senior forward Gabi Bird gave the Chippewas their first lead of the game early in the second quarter. Bird was a big part in her team’s win, scoring 24 off the bench on 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
The teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter, and after one half, the RedHawks were tied, 33-33, with the best team in the MAC.
The game was back and forth early in the third quarter, as neither team gained any separation. After a pair of Kluesner free throws gave the RedHawks a two-point lead, Central Michigan made its run.
A 3-pointer from junior guard Micaela Kelly put the Chippewas up by one. Kelly then made a jumper and assisted Bird on another shot from behind the arc.
Redshirt sophomore guard Sophia Karasinski joined in, making a three to put Central Michigan up by seven. Karasinski, who hadn’t made a 3-pointer all season, was 3-for-3 from behind the line.
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Hendrix quickly called a timeout, looking to stop the run.
It didn’t work.
Bird and Karasinski each made another three, giving the Chippewas eight 3-pointers in the quarter.
Central Michigan scored 37 points in the period, shooting 82 percent from the field and 72 percent from behind the arc. Karasinski was the team’s leading scorer in the quarter with 11 points. Karasinski, who had scored only four points the entire season before Saturday’s game, finished with 13.
A three from Dickerson made the score 70-59 at the end of the third quarter.
The RedHawks tried to mount a fourth-quarter comeback on the shoulders of Kluesner, who had 16 points in the final period. The senior forward finished with 35 points, her new career high. She scored efficiently, shooting 14-of-22 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free-throw line.
Kluesner also had a good all-around game, with eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Although she only had two assists, Kluesner did a nice job of finding open teammates when she was double-teamed.
Even with the career high, Kluesner wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of the game.
“I don’t really care about personal accomplishments,” Kluesner said. “I just wanna win.”
Although Miami was able to trim the deficit to six with three minutes remaining, it wasn’t enough to give Central Michigan its first loss in the conference. The Chippewas iced the game from the free-throw line and hung on to win, 99-87.
Kluesner wasn’t the only RedHawk with a career high. Dickerson, along with scoring 16 points, finished the game with 12 assists, the most she’s ever had in a Miami uniform.
“I think between those two, teams are gonna have their hands full,” Hendrix said.
Hoff was the only other RedHawk to score in double digits, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The 3-ball gave Miami trouble on defense. Central Michigan made 17 threes, shooting 48 percent from behind the arc. The Chippewas’ 99 points were the most allowed by the RedHawks all season.
“We gotta find 3-point shooters,” Hendrix said. “I mean, they shot almost 50 percent from three.”
The team looks to bounce back on Wednesday, as it heads to Northern Illinois. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.