Jack Owens might’ve found his new good luck charm Wednesday.
In honor of John Thompson Jr., the legendary Georgetown basketball coach who died in August, Owens slung a white towel over his right shoulder like Thompson did throughout his career,
It worked, as Owens’ RedHawks opened their new season with an 81-67 win over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks at Millett Hall.
“It was just for this day,” Owens said before smiling. “(But) I don’t know yet. I might just wear it all year if we continue to win.”
The victory marked the first time Miami has claimed its opening game since 2017, Owens’ first year in Oxford.
“It can give us a lot of confidence and energy, but it can definitely humble us and continue to keep us growing,” sophomore guard Dae Dae Grant said.
The RedHawks controlled the majority of the contest, as the only lead the Fighting Hawks held was 2-0 less than one minute into the game. Miami then went on a 20-6 run to open it up and never led by less than five the rest of the way.
And just like Thompson’s teams with Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo, Owens received sturdy play from his bigs.
James Beck, a redshirt junior who sat out last season as a transfer from Oakland, recorded a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in his first game as a RedHawk. Only Grant (game-high 21 points) scored more.
“I was pretty comfortable,” Beck said. “I’ve done four years already, so it’s like practice to me. Just go out there and play hard every possession and have a high motor.”
Redshirt senior Precious Ayah, junior Eli McNamara and redshirt freshman Javin Etzler helped Beck try to replace the production of former starting center Bam Bowman, who graduated last spring.
Ayah and Etzler both tallied eight points while McNamara had four.
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Owens also praised his team’s defense. The RedHawks forced 17 turnovers and capped North Dakota at 38% shooting from the field.
“I think we can be one of the better defensive teams in our league and one of the better defensive teams in the country if you ask me,” Owens said.
The Fighting Hawks’ two leading scorers were redshirt sophomore guard Caleb Nero (16 points) and junior forward Filip Rebraca (15 points).
Miami will stay at Millett Hall Monday for a matchup with Defiance College. The game is scheduled to tipoff at 5:30 and will be broadcast on ESPN3.