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Miami crushes Heidelberg to improve to 4-0

<p>Senior forward Dalonte Brown (pictured, no. 13) gets down in a defensive stance during a loss to Akron.</p>

Senior forward Dalonte Brown (pictured, no. 13) gets down in a defensive stance during a loss to Akron.

The Miami University men’s basketball team knew it would likely win its Saturday contest against Heidelberg University, a Division III school from Tiffin, Ohio.

The final score was nothing to scoff at, though. The RedHawks doubled Heidelberg’s score of 45, scoring 90 points to improve to 4-0 on the season. 

The 4-0 mark is the team’s best start since the 1998-99 season, when future NBA player Wally Szczerbiak led the team to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

“It does feel good to be 4-0,” head coach Jack Owens said. “Just wanna continue to move the needle and see how far we can push it.”

Junior guard Dae Dae Grant came out firing. He scored five of the team’s first nine points and assisted senior forward Precious Ayah on a layup. Heidelberg called a timeout after a three by Grant put the RedHawks up 9-3.

Miami got whatever it wanted in the paint. Senior forward Dalonte Brown drew a foul inside and made both free throws, then Grant scored on a euro step and a nice finish. The inside scoring aided the team’s outside game, as senior guard Isaiah Coleman Lands made a 3-pointer off  an assist from senior guard Mekhi Lairy. The shot capped a 13-0 run for the RedHawks.

After Coleman Lands’ three, Miami scored the rest of its points in the half from the long ball. Coleman Lands made another one, then sophomore forward Kamari Williams made a three of his own. Redshirt junior guard Myja White made three straight triples, then Coleman Lands drained another to cap the first half.

The RedHawks led 45-14 after the intermission. White was the team’s leading scorer at halftime, as he made all four of his 3-point attempts to score 12 points. He finished the game with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc.

“I feel pretty confident (in my shot) this year,” White said. “I’ve been putting in the work before and after practice with my coaches.”

Miami extended its lead in the second half, thanks to Ayah. The sixth-year senior scored six points in the first four minutes in the period and drew an offensive foul on Heidelberg’s Treohn Watkins.

White fed Brown for a dunk in transition to put the RedHawks up 41, its largest lead of the day to that point. Heidelberg scored seven straight points, but Lairy and White each made 3-pointers to put the team back up by 40.

A three by Williams extended Miami’s lead to 50 points, its largest lead of the game. 

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With a few minutes left, the RedHawks put in their bench players. Walk-on junior Jackson Kenyon made a shot with a minute left, leading to cheers from the Miami student section. Fellow junior walk-on Will Stevens made a free throw with eight seconds to go to give the team 90 points on the day.

It was a combination of tough defense and outside shooting that aided the RedHawks to a blowout victory. The team held Heidelberg to 22.8% shooting and forced 20 turnovers. Miami made 13 of its 28 3-point attempts, with five different RedHawks making a three.

Owens was impressed not only by the team’s shooting performance, but also its 22 team assists.

“The guys are bought in to making the right play,” Owens said. “You see where a guy could have a decent shot, but they’ll make the extra pass to a guy who has a wide open shot.”

It wasn’t all smooth-sailing for Owens’ squad, though. The team turned the ball over 16 times, something the head coach said needs to be improved.

“(We) just have to make a better decision taking care of the ball, but we will definitely clean that up,” Owens said.

After a blowout win over Heidelberg, Miami returns to action in Millett Hall this Tuesday against another Division III school, Defiance College. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.