Miami might be able to win a basketball game if Nike Sibande or Dalonte Brown have a rough half or game.
The challenge becomes more imposing if both struggle.
Sibande scored just eight points in the game and finished with as many turnovers as made field goals – four of each. Brown took just three shots and scored just two of his team-high 18 points after halftime, opening the door for Buffalo to come from behind for an 83-78 Mid-American Conference win Friday night at Millett.
Third-year coach Jack Owens chose to not place blame on his two normally prolific juniors.
“They had a guard on Dalonte, and we were able to get some inside postups,” Owens said. “He was being selective. He was trying to pick his spots. At the end of the day, that’s not why we lost the game. We just need more guys who, when you look at the stat sheet, you see the same things every game. Dalonte continues to grow and get better. We need more guys to continue to grow and get better.”
“We just need somebody to step up, including me,” Brown said. “It’s having the desire to win. It’s having that extra fight.”
Miami (7-9) fell to 0-3 in the MAC with the loss to an East Division rival. The RedHawks opened conference play last season with four straight losses. They will stay home for a MAC game on Tuesday against East Division-rival Kent State.
Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands scored 13 points, freshman guard Dae Dae Grant added 11 and senior forward Bam Bowman finished with 10 for Miami, but Buffalo placed five players in double figures, led by junior guard Jayvon Graves with 25.
“Buffalo’s got guys who’ve been to the NCAA Tournament,” Owens said. “They refuse to lose.”
On their way to a third straight win in the series, the Bulls took the lead for good when sophomore forward Jeenathan Williams stripped sophomore forward Josh Brewer of the ball in the open court right in front of the Miami bench and sailed in for a dunk that gave them 55-54 lead with 15:21 left in the game. They went to lead by as many as nine points with 7:57 left before the RedHawks started closing the gap.
“We had a couple of breskdowns in the second half that cost us,” Owens said. “We’ve got to get better in certain areas to win games. We’ve got to be strong with the ball. We’ve got to continue to learn how to win.”
Buffalo, the MAC’s worst free-throw shooting team, help Miami stay alive by missing the front end of consecutive bonus free-throw situations in the last 47.8 seconds. The RedHawks pulled within two on a rare four-point possession. Grant made one free throw and, after missing the second, the ball was slapped out to Coleman-Lands, who sank a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, stirring hopes for most of the 1,056 fans on hand, but Ronaldo Segu went 3-for-4 from the line in the last 8.5 seconds to keep Miami at bay.
Miami also missed the front ends of consecutive bonus situations earlier in the half. After going 9-for-10 from the line in the first half, the RedHawks were 8-of-15 in the second half.
Brown, who logged his fourth double-double of the season while Sibande was scoring only nine points in Miami’s 78-76 loss on Tuesday at Bowling Green, scored 16 points in 16 minutes and sophomore forward Eli McNamara scored on a putback at the buzzer as the RedHawks took a 43-36 lead into the halftime locker room. Miami raced to an 11-0 lead before the Bulls put together a 17-0 run on the way to a 22-13 lead. Brown responded with a personal 5-0 run before Miami got three consecutive 3-pointers from three different players to forge a 27-27 tie and ended the half with s 16-9 run.
“It was a game of runs,” Owens said.
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