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Miami drops final home game of regular season to Kent State

<p>Junior forward Eli McNamara shoots a mid-range jumper over an Akron defender during an 83-76 loss on Feb. 12 at Millett Hall.</p>

Junior forward Eli McNamara shoots a mid-range jumper over an Akron defender during an 83-76 loss on Feb. 12 at Millett Hall.

Charlie Coles was the last Miami head coach to do it. Jack Owens has two more chances to be the next.

With one more win, Owens and his RedHawks will become the first Miami men’s basketball squad in 10 years to finish the regular season with a winning record.

They didn’t get that victory Saturday against Kent State and now have two more contests remaining before the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

“It’s pretty painful,” redshirt sophomore guard Myja White said following the 64-51 loss at Millett Hall. “We put in a lot of hard work this week. I wish we would’ve finished out (our home schedule) with a win, but we’re going to hang our heads high and focus on the next one now.”

The Golden Flashes bullied Miami inside. They made only six 3-pointers the entire game but dominated the rebounding (45-27), points-in-the-paint (34-18) and second-chance-points battles (20-5). 

“They obviously play extremely big,” Owens said. “With that, you’ve got to be able to match it — just continue to block out and come up with the 50/50 balls.”

Owens said the RedHawks’ tough schedule — which included four games in the last eight days — didn’t play into their lack of physicality.

“I just know this: We were not at our best,” he said. “We have to be better … The schedule is what it is. It’s not ideal for this time of year, but it’s something we had to go through and continue to go through to finish out our conference race.”

After Kent State won the tipoff, Miami scored the first bucket of the game and led 15-12 halfway through the first half. 

Then, the RedHawks hit a three-minute dry spell on offense and surrendered nine points on defense to fall behind. The Golden Flashes closed out the period with 10 points in the final two-minutes-and-change and entered halftime with a 36-29 lead.

Miami cut the lead back to two five minutes into the second half, but Kent State went on a 20-6 run during the next 10 minutes to push its advantage to 62-46.

The RedHawks didn’t muster a final charge, as the Golden Flashes kept double-digit distance and won 64-51.

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White recorded a career-high 14 points to pace Miami. He was followed by 11-point efforts from senior forward Dalonte Brown and redshirt junior forward James Beck.

“I feel like it boosted my confidence up,” White said. “I think, from here on out, the sky’s the limit. I’m gonna keep playing as humble as I am.”

Two Golden Flash big men turned in double-doubles. Senior Tervell Beck had game highs with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and senior Danny Pippen tallied 15 points and 10 boards.

The RedHawks hit the road for their final two games. The next one, at Bowling Green on Tuesday, will start at 7 p.m. and air on ESPN+.