It wasn’t pretty, but the RedHawks got the job done Saturday.
After scoring 80 points in the team’s last four games, Miami’s shooting took a dip against Western Michigan. The RedHawks converted less than 40% of their shots, and only five of their 29 three point attempts.
Luckily, the team came prepared to play defense, as Western Michigan’s shooting wasn’t much better. Miami held the Broncos to just 56 points on 41.7% from the field.
It was enough for the RedHawks to hold on and win, 65-56.
After the game, Miami head coach Jack Owens praised his team for its adaptability.
“We’re gonna continue to take those rhythm shots within our offense, but on days where the ball doesn’t go in, our defense has gotta carry us,” Owens said, “and I thought our guys did a great job.”
Redshirt senior forward Dalonte Brown scored the first seven points of the game for Miami, making two long jumpers and a shot from behind the arc.
Owens showed off the team’s depth, as 10 different RedHawks played minutes in the first half. Redshirt freshman forward Javin Etzler got into the action, making a long two-point jumper on a pick-and-pop pass from redshirt senior guard Milos Jovic.
Junior forward Josh Brewer, another reserve player, came into the game and made an acrobatic baseline reverse layup to put the ‘’Hawks up 17-10. The team had to compensate for the lack of redshirt junior guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands, who missed the game due to an undisclosed reason.
“Isaiah’s a guy who comes off the bench, but he plays a lot of minutes. And we had to go with someone else because Mekhi and Dae Dae, we obviously do not want them playing 40 minutes,” Owens said.
A 3-pointer from sophomore guard B. Artis White cut Miami’s lead to one with a minute left in the first half. Redshirt sophomore guard Myja White answered with a three of his own to give the RedHawks a 25-21 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Lairy was the best player on the floor. After six straight points by Western Michigan to start the half, Lairy ran a pick and roll with James Beck and assisted the junior forward on a layup, then scored on the next two possessions. A few plays later, he drove inside and scored again, making a free throw to complete the and-1.
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It wasn’t just the junior guard’s scoring ability that took over the game. Lairy also dished out good passes to teammates, including a hockey assist on a 3-pointer from Etzler. Lairy had six assists in the game.
The RedHawks extended their lead to double digits after another three from Etzler. Western Michigan stayed in the game, though, as two straight buckets from senior forward Greg Lee cut Miami’s lead to four.
From there, the game was back and forth. After a timeout from Miami, Lairy dribbled around and found a crease for a little jumper in the lane. Lairy finished the game with 15 points, six assists and three steals.
Redshirt junior guard Jason Whitens answered with a score and an assist to Lee to bring the Broncos’ deficit back to four. A few minutes later, a three from Brown made the score 56-48. Brown was the team's leading scorer with 16 points.
After a Western Michigan basket with four and a half minutes left, both teams went cold. As the clock wound down, this favored the RedHawks, as all they had to do was ice the game from the free throw line.
The final score was 65-56, Miami, as the ’Hawks improved to 8-5.
The free throw line was the deciding factor in the game. The RedHawks got to the line 23 times, converting on 18 of their chances. The Broncos, however, shot only five free throws the whole game.
Miami will be back in action on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at Kent State. The game will be at 7 p.m. on ESPN3 and the Miami Radio Network.