Brown’s return bolsters Miami basketball

Miami University's Dalonte Brown puts up a shot during their basketball game against University of Cincinnati Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 at Millett Hall on Miami University campus in Oxford. University of Cincinnati won 59-58. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Miami University's Dalonte Brown puts up a shot during their basketball game against University of Cincinnati Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 at Millett Hall on Miami University campus in Oxford. University of Cincinnati won 59-58. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

At least temporary custody of eighth place in the Mid-American Conference men’s basketball standings was on the line when Miami and Bowling Green met Saturday afternoon at Millett Hall in Oxford.

The visiting Falcons were 5-8 and eighth in the Mid-American Conference standings, a half-game ahead of the RedHawks, who could inch ahead of Bowling Green by percentage points with a win.

Miami, bolstered by the return of senior forward Dalonte Brown from an ankle injury, set a MAC season-high in scoring in a surprisingly easy 94-78 win in the nightcap of women’s-men’s doubleheader.

Senior guard Mekhi Lairy tied his career high with four 3-pointers and led the RedHawks with 24 points. Brown scored 14 points in 16 minutes. Junior guard Dae Dae Grant scored 19 points and senior forward Precious Ayah added 10 with a season-high 12 rebounds for the RedHawks.

The 6-foot-7 Brown returned after missing five games and most of a sixth with an ankle injury he suffered early in Miami’s 81-64 loss at Ball State on January 25.

After playing three consecutive home games, Miami (11-13, 5-8) is scheduled to play at Ohio on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and at Northern Illinois on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. before returning to Millett on February 22 to face Buffalo at 7 p.m. in the first of two straight home games.

The Bobcats, who went into Saturday’s game at Eastern Michigan 20-4 overall and tied with Toledo for the MAC lead with an 11-2 record, handed the RedHawks their worst loss of the season, 86-63, on January 18 in Oxford.

The RedHawks were coming off a 62-57 win over Western Michigan that snapped a five-game losing streak. They went into the game ninth in the MAC, a half-game behind the Falcons (12-12, 4-9), who edged Miami in overtime, 87-83, on Jan. 8 at Bowling Green.

The top eight teams qualify for the MAC Tournament at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

In the afternoon’s opener, junior guard Peyton Scott led four RedHawks in double figures with 24 points as Miami (8-14, 4-9) knocked off Central Michigan, 90-77.

Bowling Green went into the game leading the MAC with an average of 82.2 points per game. Miami led by as many as 32 points with 7:24 left in the game.

Lairy scored eight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, during a 16-0 RedHawks run that left them leading, 35-24, with 5:25 left before halftime. The Falcons cut that lead to five points before Brown and Grant teamed up on a 10-0 run for a 47-32 halftime lead. The run included back-to-back Brown 3-pointers.

Miami led at the half for the first time since the loss at Bowling Green.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Miami at Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPN3, 980, 1450

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