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RedHawks get hot from deep, bury Central Michigan

It took a few weeks, but the RedHawks finally got their chance at revenge against a Chippewas team that had lost six straight coming into Thursday night. Needless to say, Miami was ready.

The ’Hawks took down their cross-state rival in embarrassing fashion, with four Miami players scoring in double figures. The 76-57 final from Millett Hall saw the RedHawks improve to 4-11 in Mid-American Conference play, whereas Central Michigan continued its skid, dropping to 6-9. 

“This was a good team win,” head coach Jack Owens said. “I thought some guys stepped up and definitely played extremely well.”

The first few shots were no good on either side. Miami failed to convert on two layups while the Chippewas’ first shot was slapped (very loudly) out of bounds by sophomore bigman Eli McNamara. Central Michigan eventually turned free throws into an early 10-1 run.

Scoring was tough to come by initially on the home front, with the RedHawks only scoring one point through the first five and a half minutes. Senior forward Bam Bowman finally gave his team its first field goal, a 3-pointer, to begin the process of clawing back from an early deficit.

Being down by as many as nine, Owens turned to his bench spark in redshirt sophomore guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands, who went on a personal 7-0 run to give the RedHawks a lead they never surrendered. 

As soon as it looked like a few Chippewa free throws had stopped the bleeding, the ’Hawks evolved into the Jovic and Sibande show, with junior guards Nike Sibande and Milos Jovic combining for a 13-0 tab.

With the score at 39-27, Miami was well in charge at the half. It showed in several categories, including points off the bench (10 to six), three-point percentage (53.8 percent, 7 of 13) and seemingly most important, rebounding (22 to 13).

Miami’s onslaught of Central Michigan continued into the second half, with the RedHawk lead ballooning to as high as 24 points with a few highlight plays mixed in. Jovic’s career night included taking senior forward David Dileo’s ankles on a stepback jumper, which was then copied by Sibande two possessions later. Coleman-Lands set career highs in assists (seven), rebounds (seven) and steals (five).

“Our energy changed [with] Isaiah coming in,” said Jovic on his teammate’s impact on the game. “He started off great, and then we took off as a team. We just started making shots, we played for each other, we made the extra [pass].”

The RedHawks made amends for their previous loss against the Chippewas back on Jan. 4 with a 76-57 victory. 

Sibande finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, Jovic had 15 points and hit three of five attempts from downtown, Coleman-Lands finished with 13 points and sophomore guard Mekhi Lairy contributed 12 points.

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Miami held Central Michigan under 33 percent shooting for the game while forcing 17 turnovers. Owens’ squad also outrebounded the Chippewas 44 to 31.

“I thought guys did a good job of working the basketball inside and out, and we had opportunities in transition to cash in,” Owens said. “We thought we could get some second-chance opportunities by pursuing rebounds. I just thought the guys were flying around … I felt like the guys played hard. I’m just happy with their overall play.”

The RedHawks return to Millett Hall to face Bowling Green on Saturday. The game will be the second of a doubleheader for One Miami weekend and will tip off at 3:30 p.m.