College basketball: Miami rolls in final non-conference game

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

OXFORD — Miami turned its final tuneup for the Mid-American Conference men’s basketball season into a romp.

Freshman guard Evan Ipsaro led seven RedHawks in double figures as they rolled to a 119-69 win over the Wilberforce Bulldogs on Friday.

Ipsaro scored 17 points in 20 minutes as Miami evened its record at 6-6 and now has won back-to-back games for the third time this season.

Freshman forward Jackson Kotecki finished with 13, sophomore forward Jaquel Morris, freshman Elan Elmer and junior guard Bradley Dean each added 12 points and sophomore guard Ryan Mabrey and freshman center Reece Potter each finished with 10.

Second-year Miami coach Travis Steele was happy with how his team responded to unusual circumstances.

“They were able to go home for a couple of days at Christmas, but we have five freshmen,” Steele said. “It’s hard. You go home and see your family and friends and then come back here and the campus is empty. We had a couple of good practices this week.

Freshman guard Mekhi Cooper led both teams and set career highs with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“That was definitely a big thing for me,” Cooper said.

Fourteen players saw action and all but one scored at least one point, which logged 27 assists on 45 made field goals. The RedHawks outrebounded the Bulldogs, 52-25.

Miami shot a sizzling 66.7 percent (24-of-36) after halftime. Miami outscored Wilberforce, 70-28, in the paint and 70-14 off the bench.

“Our plan was to not do anything different,” Cooper said. “I think we executed the game plan.”

Junior guard Cali Davis scored a game-high 21 points for Wilberforce, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program that competes in the Continental Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs slipped to 5-11.

“Any time you play, you accomplish something,” Wilberforce coach Mark Mitchell said. “I thought we did some good things defensively. We had some good stops, but I would like to have seen us compete harder and take better shots.”

After their second straight Friday game, the RedHawks are scheduled to open MAC play on Tuesday against Western Michigan in the third of three straight home games. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

“Our goal was to be playing our best going into the MAC season,” Cooper said.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to be off until Jan. 9 when they travel to Clinton College in Rock Hill, S.C., for a 6 p.m. non-conference game.

Wilberforce likes to play at a frenetic, pressing the length of the court, and the RedHawks were able to take advantage by shredding the Bulldogs’ halfcourt defense for wide-open layups on the way to a 57-32 halftime lead. Each of the 11 Miami players who saw the court in the first half scored at least two points, led by Ipsaro’s 10.

Steele was pleased that Miami didn’t get caught up in Wilberforce’s pace.

“I’ve known coach Mitchell a long time,” Steele said. “He wanted to play last year, but we didn’t. I respect what he’s doing with that program. We had to learn to not get sped up. We played at our pace.”

The RedHawks shot 55.3 percent (21-of-38) in the first half while Wilberforce shot 40 percent (12-of-30), including just 2-of-12 on 3-pointers. The Bulldogs also committed 11 turnovers, allowing Miami to build a 15-5 advantage on points off turnovers. The RedHawks piled up 23 rebounds to Wilberforce’s 15 by halftime.

The Bulldogs actually led, 4-2, before going more than six minutes without a field goal, opening the door for Miami to take control with a 26-3 run.


Western Michigan at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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