“It feels good,” Lairy said. “I couldn’t do it without my coaches and teammates and the managers, who stick around after practice and help me with my shot.”
“I was happy for Dalonte,” fifth-year coach Jack Owens said. “He made some big plays, and I think that fallaway was Mekhi’s 1,000th, but I can’t talk about the seniors without mentioning Precious Ayah and what he’s endured the last 36 hours. He sacrificed everything to play.”
Ayah has been plagued with back problems, Owens said, but he finished 20 seconds short of 36 minutes and scored nine points, all in the first half.
Miami came back from a 15-point deficit with 9:44 left in the game to post its largest comeback of the season and improve to 9-8 overall and 3-3 in the MAC.
The Huskies slipped to 5-10 and 2-3 in the MAC.
Brown scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Lairy was right behind Brown with 21, 19 after halftime. Junior guard Dae Dae Grant added 18.
“A lot of it was the ball going in,” Owens said. “We had some great ball movement. It felt great to see the ball going in.”
Miami is scheduled to make a two-game swing through the MAC West Division with games at Ball State on Tuesday and at Eastern Michigan before returning home on February 1 to face Kent State in a 7 p.m. game.
In the afternoon’s opener, Miami’s women cut a 49-28 deficit going into the fourth quarter to 52-50 in the final two minutes before Western Michigan pulled away for a 63-54 win. Junior guard Peyton Scott led three RedHawks in double figures with 17 points. Sophomore guard Edyn Battle scored 15 points and freshman guard Ivy Wolf added 11 for Miami (6-8, 2-3 MAC).
The RedHawks already have surpassed last season’s total of four wins. Their next conference win will allow them to match last season’s three victories.
In the nightcap, Miami started off shooting miserably from the field, missing 12 of its first 16 shots from the field while falling behind by 12, 21-9, with 11:09 left before halftime. The RedHawks regrouped to make five of their last nine shots and cut NIU’s lead to four, 31-27, with 2:18 left in the half before the Huskies ended the half with a 6-0 run for a 37-27 halftime lead.
NIU finished the first half 6-of-11 on 3-pointers while Miami was making just one of nine from beyond the arc. They went 8-for-21 in the game.
“In the first half, the shots weren’t going down,” Brown said. “When that happens, you have to find other ways to score.”
Brown had five rebounds by halftime to move past Danny Horace into ninth place on the career rebounds list with 783. The Toledo native added two grabs in the second half to reach 785. Horace piled up 782 in his career from 2002 through 2005. Jamie Mahaffey is eighth with 790.
Miami at Ball State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450