As the final buzzer sounded on a 73-64 Miami win over Western Michigan Wednesday at Millett Hall, sophomore guard Peyton Scott let out a triumphant roar.
As she moved toward the bench, she locked in an embrace with head coach DeUnna Hendrix, as the rest of her teammates celebrated around her.
It was a long time coming for the RedHawks, who hadn’t won a game since Dec. 8 against Valparaiso.
“Everybody says, ‘stay the course,’ ‘trust the process,’ everybody says that,” Hendrix said. “But when you’re in it, it’s really, really hard to do.”
Scott imposed her will on the game in the first quarter. After a basket by senior forward Kelly McLaughlin to open the game, Scott went to work, assisting Tihanna Fulton on a 3-pointer and then driving into the lane twice for two scores.
Scott then hit two pull-up jumpers in a row, putting the RedHawks up 13-7. She had 10 points after the first quarter, leading to a 20-14 advantage for Miami.
Baskets from Scott, McLaughlin and redshirt senior Abbey Hoff made the score 26-19 with 7:30 left in the second quarter.
It was a defensive struggle from there, as the RedHawks didn’t score for another four minutes. Finally, Scott intercepted a pass in the backcourt and turned it into an easy two. Luckily for Miami, Western Michigan also went cold, scoring only once in a four-minute span.
Scott, who was getting into the lane at will, drove in and scored twice to make the score 32-25. Redshirt senior forward Reilly Jacobson answered for the Broncos, scoring twice before the half to cut into the RedHawks’ lead.
The score at halftime was 32-29, Miami.
Freshman guard Katie Davidson scored the first seven points of the half for the RedHawks, including a 3-pointer off a long cross-court pass from Scott.
A basket from Jacobson made the score 39-37 in favor of Miami. Both teams had another mid-quarter cold streak until Scott drove inside for another layup. Hoff then hit a shot from behind the arc to put the RedHawks up 45-37.
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That was all the cushion Miami needed, as the teams traded baskets for the rest of the third. With four seconds left in the quarter, a bad inbounds pass by Hoff led to a steal and a fast break for Western Michigan. It looked like the Broncos would get another score to cut into the lead, but Scott chased down freshman guard Megan Wagner and rejected her layup.
At the end of the third quarter, the score was 49-42.
Miami put the game away early in the fourth, as the team started the quarter with an 8-0 run. Scott was still in attack mode, as another driving layup put the team up by 15.
Every time the Broncos tried to claw their way back in it, Scott had an answer for them. With three and a half minutes left, she rejected a ball screen and drove hard into the paint for a lefty layup to put the RedHawks back up by 10. With the layup, she eclipsed 30 points for just the second time in her career.
Scott essentially clinched the win with 25 seconds left to go. After making two free throws to put her team up by seven, she stole a lazy inbounds pass from Jacobson. Western Michigan was forced to foul, as Scott scored the last two points of the game from the charity stripe.
The sophomore guard finished with 37 points, a new career high. Scott also had 10 rebounds and five steals.
“The strategy was just, put the ball in P’s hands,” Hendrix said. “She makes me a very good coach.”
With Scott scoring more than half the team’s points, Davidson and McLaughlin were the only other RedHawks to score in double figures, each with 10 points. Hoff played a good all-around game, with eight points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.
After the win, the team’s emotions were high.
“We’ve been going through the trenches and seeing adversity the whole time, but, you know, at the end of it, when we see the success finally come, like, it’s real out here,” Scott said.
Miami will look to start a winning streak on the road against Kent State this Saturday. The game will tip off at noon on ESPN+.