Going into the Miami RedHawks’ game against Ohio at Millett Hall on Saturday, it seemed like they hadn’t beaten the Bobcats in back-to-back games since Wayne Embry played in Oxford back in the late 1950s.
Actually, it had been only since the 2010-2011 season. Miami won both games against Ohio that season before losing 14 of the next 16, including a seven-game losing streak snapped with a 68-55 win in the first round of last season’s Mid-American Conference tournament.
The RedHawks decisively snapped that slump before a season-high home crowd of 2,319, many of them on hand to honor Embry, the Miami Athletic and Naismith Basketball halls of fame inductee who graduated in 1958. Junior Bam Bowman set a single-game career high with 23 points, sophomore guard Nike Sibande scored 13 points and Miami (13-11, 5-6 Mid-American Conference East Division) enjoyed a 79-59 win.
“Having Wayne back, one of the best to do it – it was just a great day,” second-year coach Jack Owens said.
Senior guard Darrian Ringo and sophomore guard Jalen Adaway both came off the bench to reach double figures, Ringo with 14 points and Adaway with 10, and Bowman, perhaps channeling his inner Embry, grabbed 12 rebounds to log Miami’s second double-double of the season – both his – and help the RedHawks finish with a substantial 46-29 advantage.
“Hopefully, Wayne enjoyed that,” Owens said. “Bam is growing, as a player and a leader.”
“He came and talked to us,” Bowman said of Embry, who set the program’s single-game rebound record with 34 against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 14, 1957, and tied it two days later against Kent State. “I don’t know. Thirty-four rebounds in insane. It was a good win to get back rolling after a tough loss at Kent State.”
The winning margin was Miami’s widest over Ohio since a 73-49 romp on March 1, 2008. The RedHawks have a chance to pick up a third consecutive win over Ohio for the first time since Feb. 3, 1999, when the two teams meet in Athens, Ohio, on March 8.
Miami is off until playing at Western Michigan next Saturday. The Broncos went into Saturday’s MAC schedule in last place in the West Division with a 0-9 record. The RedHawks’ next home game is Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. against Ball State.
Ohio (11-11, 3-7) went into Saturday’s game on a two-game losing streak and ranked last in the MAC in scoring, 3-point field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage and second-last in average made 3-pointers per game.
Freshman guard Mekhi Lairy made his fourth consecutive start, while Ringo came off the bench for the fourth consecutive game.
Bowman scored 12 points and Ringo added 10 in 14 minutes as Miami was building a 47-27 halftime lead. Emphasizing the intensity of the “Battle of the Bricks” rivalry, which Ohio still leads, 110-94, one fan yelled, “No mercy” as Miami was rushing to its halftime lead.
Miami, coming off a disappointing 70-67 loss at Kent State on Tuesday, went 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from the field in the first half, while Ohio was just 10-of-26 (38.5 percent). The Bobcats also sank just 4-of-10 free throws while the RedHawks were going 9-for-13.
“We felt like we gave one away on Tuesday,” Owens said. “The guys were ready to go.”
“I would say that was our best half, offensively and defensively,” Bowman said. “We were getting stops and flying around and executing our offense and making plays.’
The Bobcats cut Miami’s halftime lead to six points, 53-47, with 13:05 left in the second half . After a Miami timeout, senior guard Abdoulaye Harouna touched off a 9-0 run with a feathery jumper from the right baseline followed by a 3-pointer from the left wing, right in front of the RedHawks’ bench, and Miami pulled away.
“I just told them to stay the course,” Owens said. “There was no reason to panic.”
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