In her season-opening press conference in November 2019, DeUnna Hendrix praised her new team.
Hendrix, starting her first season as head coach of the Miami RedHawks, said the team was the toughest she’d ever been around in her career.
“Their toughness is almost unseen and unheard of,” Hendrix said.
Although those were strong words for a group Hendrix hadn’t been around very long, its previous season justified the praise. The RedHawks won 23 games in 2019 and were 13-5 in Mid-American Conference contests. Although the team lost in the MAC semifinals to Ohio, it received a berth to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. It was Miami’s second 20-win season in a row, after winning 21 games in 2018.
The RedHawks were replacing three starters, but they brought back seniors Lauren Dickerson and Savannah Kluesner, who were the team’s two leading scorers in 2019. With Dickerson and Kluesner in the lineup, Miami expected to have a fighting chance in the MAC.
It didn’t happen.
The RedHawks went 11-20 (4-14 MAC) and lost in the first round of the MAC tournament. The team’s 4-14 conference record was second-worst in the league only to Bowling Green, who defeated the RedHawks at home on senior night. The loss was a part of Miami’s nine-game losing streak to end the season.
Here’s a look at what went right (and wrong) for the RedHawks this season:
Dickerson and Kluesner
The senior duo had another great season that saw both of them make the All-MAC team. Dickerson, who had 1,670 points coming into the season, scored 538 points this season and became the all-time leading scorer in Miami women’s basketball history. The dynamic point guard averaged a team-high 17.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, and was top-10 in the MAC in both categories.
After this season, Dickerson’s name will be all over Miami’s record books. She leads the RedHawks in career points scored, field goals made, 3-pointers made and 20-point games. The senior guard left Miami just one assist shy of the team’s career record.
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Kluesner was a more-than-reliable second option, starting every game for the RedHawks and averaging 16.1 points per contest. The senior forward was also top-five in the MAC with 8.9 rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game. Kluesner was an inside presence, scoring in the post on offense and protecting the rim on defense. She leaves Miami as a top-five rebounder and shot-blocker in program history.
Dickerson and Kluesner were second and third team All-MAC, respectively.
Four Games in eight Days
On Saturday, Feb.1, the Miami RedHawks beat the Bowling Green Falcons 80-59, snapping a five-game losing streak. It was the first of four games in eight days for the ’Hawks.
Two days later, the team hosted Western Michigan in a rare Monday night game at Millett Hall, which had been rescheduled due to potential coronavirus cases in Oxford the week before. Dickerson broke the 2,000-point threshold in the second quarter, and Miami won, 70-67.
The RedHawks had only one day of rest before playing their next game against the Toledo Rockets at home. Miami won, 92-83, with Peyton Scott scoring a career-high 28 points. The team’s 92 points were the most it scored this season.
Miami played its third straight home game on Saturday, Feb. 8, its fourth game in eight days. The RedHawks were looking for the fourth straight win of the season against Central Michigan, who came into the game undefeated in the MAC.
Miami lost, 99-87, but the RedHawks were competitive. The game was tied at halftime, and it took a 3-point barrage from the Chippewas to put Miami away in the third quarter. Although they lost, the way the RedHawks had played over the last four games seemed to give the team momentum going forward.
Peyton Scott and Abbey Hoff
Scott and Hoff both started more than 20 games this season and were solid contributors to the team. Scott, a freshman from Lynchburg, Ohio, was third on the team in scoring, with 12.5 points per game. The freshman guard also averaged 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. Scott was named to the MAC All-Freshman team.
After playing less than 200 minutes the previous season, Hoff had career highs in almost every category, including points, rebounds, minutes played and 3-pointers made. The redshirt junior shot 39 percent from behind the arc, good for first on the team and fourth in the MAC.
With Dickerson and Kluesner graduating, Scott and Hoff should be Miami’s most reliable contributors next season.
Simply put, the RedHawks were a bad defensive team this season. The team gave up 75.5 points per game, last in the MAC. Miami was also last in opponent’s field goal percentage and 3-point percentage, and gave up 80 points or more in 12 of its 19 conference games.
Despite having one of the conference’s best rebounders in Kluesner, the RedHawks had one of the worst rebounding margins in the MAC, getting outworked on the boards by three rebounds per game. If Miami wants to have a better season next year, it must improve on the defensive end.
The RedHawks had two long losing streaks in conference play that derailed their season. After splitting its first two MAC contests, Miami lost five straight games, starting with a loss at Central Michigan on Jan. 11. During the skid, the team played in close games, losing three games by single digits. The RedHawks broke the losing streak with an 80-59 win against Bowling Green.
The team’s next losing streak also started with a loss against Central Michigan, this time at home to close out the stretch of four games in eight days in February. Despite the loss, the three-game winning streak in the games before showed the team was finally starting to play well in the MAC.
Its momentum didn’t last. Miami didn’t win another game, ending the season on a nine-game losing streak. The RedHawks gave up 99 points to Central Michigan, the most they allowed all season. It was a sign of what was to come during the losing streak, as Miami gave up 80 or more points in eight of their last nine games. The RedHawks lost their last game of the season against Buffalo, 87-72.
Going into next season, the RedHawks must avoid turning a bad game into a bad week if they want to compete in the MAC.