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Miami sees marginal success in winter sports

<p>Miami University wrapped up its women’s and men’s basketball seasons and its hockey season last weekend.</p>

Miami University wrapped up its women’s and men’s basketball seasons and its hockey season last weekend.

Miami University wrapped up its women’s and men’s basketball seasons and its hockey season last weekend. Nobody won a playoff game or finished first in the conference, but no teams went winless either. Here’s a short roundup of each of those seasons.

Men’s basketball (12-20, 6-12 MAC)

Miami’s men’s basketball team reeled off a pretty impressive win streak to take control of its destiny on the final day of the season. First-year Head Coach Travis Steele’s team wasn’t always easy to watch this season, but it won four games in a row, including two on the road, when it really counted and somehow made it to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament.

The streak started with an improbable comeback win at Northern Illinois University that included a 14-0 run to close out regulation. Senior forward Anderson Mirambeaux sank his fourth three-pointer of the season as time ran out to send the game to overtime, and Miami ended up winning 66-65.

Next, the RedHawks picked up a decisive win at home over Bowling Green, and then torched Ohio University, who ended up as the MAC five-seed, to extend their win-streak to three. They beat lowly Western Michigan University on the road in the next game to extend it to four. The RedHawks were on a roll after starting the season 2-11.

They went into the final game of the season at the University of Buffalo in good shape. Win and they were in. But they lost. Still, the rest of the MAC scoreboard shook out in their favor — Eastern Michigan  University, Central Michigan University and Bowling Green all lost on the final day too — and Miami grabbed an improbable bid to the playoffs.The RedHawks lost 75-91 to Toledo in their MAC tournament game, but there’s no shame in losing to a better team. Toledo, one of the best offensive teams in the nation, had won 16-in-a-row going into that game.

The future is intriguing for these RedHawks. Star guard Mekhi Lairy is out of eligibility, so they’ll have to replace his 17.3 points per game. Defensive specialist guard Bryson Tatum and scoring wing Kamari Williams have both entered the transfer portal. Other than that, the RedHawks will return their main contributors. 

The RedHawks are also bringing in an impressive recruiting class. It’s going to be a young but talented team in 2023-2024. The RedHawks might surprise some people next year, but make no mistake: they’re on the right track.

Women’s basketball (12-19, 7-11 MAC)

Miami women’s basketball still hasn’t made a MAC tournament during DeUnna Hendrix’s four seasons at the helm, but damn they were close.

The RedHawks entered their final game of the season controlling their own destiny. If they had beaten Ball State (25-8, 14-4 MAC) at home on the final day of the regular season, they would have been headed to Cleveland and the MAC tournament as the six-seed. Instead they lost 68-77 to one of the best teams in the MAC and had to watch their conference dance from home. 

The future is bright though for the RedHawks. Three-time All-MAC guard Peyton Scott is returning for her fifth season, and the other two leading scorers from this year’s team, Ivy Wolfe and Madi Cluse, will be entering their junior seasons. If Miami can build a complete game against those three prolific scorers, the RedHawks could be pretty darn good in 2023-2024.

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Hockey (8-24-4, 3-13-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC))

Like it has every season since 2015-16, Miami hockey finished in the bottom two of the NCHC. This year it finished last, three wins worse than Colorado College, their usual basement mate who finished seventh.

The RedHawks went to Magness Arena last weekend to play Denver, the reigning national champions in the NCHC playoffs and got swept, 2-6 on Friday and 2-7 on Saturday.

There’s not much to say about this team that I haven’t already said in countless articles over the last few years, but last season’s recruiting class was fourth-year Head Coach Chris Bergeron’s best at Miami so far, and with those players entering their sophomore years, there is hope.

If Bergeron can make some noise in the transfer portal this season, he has a pretty decent core to build around. If Miami could snag a couple of top end forwards, a good defensive center, and maybe a couple of right handed defensemen, it could be in good shape come 2023-2024.

This team had some shining moments this season. It beat No. 5 St. Cloud State University 5-0 at home back in December. It played close with or beat every NCHC team this year except for Denver. That’s no small feat in college hockey’s best conference. They’ll need to get a lot more consistent though, and this is still the same team that got outscored 2-32 in its first eight games of 2023 (yes, you read that right).

Overall, it was a largely unsuccessful winter sports season for Miami Athletics, but each team gave reason for at least a little bit of hope this summer.