- Mark Schmetzer Contributing Writer
On Dec. 9, Miami rode torrid three-point shooting to an impressive 81-73 win over Fort Wayne at Millett Hall.
A week and a day later, after finishing exam week, the RedHawks didn’t need their long-range attack. Facing tiny Rio Grande, Miami dominated the inside game on the way to an easy 109-70 win at Millett.
Bulky sophomore forward Bam Bowman set career highs with 20 points and 10 rebounds while recording his first career double-double to lead the RedHawks. The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Bowling Green, Ky., native went 6-for-7 from the field, including one of two 3-pointers, and 7-of-10 on free throws.
“Every game, I take the same approach and the same strategy,” Bowman said. “It feels great to get my first double-double at Miami.”
Freshman guard Nike Sibande, who went into the game leading Miami with an average of 13.0 points per game, led the RedHawks and tied his single-game career-high with 21. Junior guards Darrian Ringo and Jake Wright came off the bench to both reach double figures, 12 for Ringo and 10 for Wright.
Ringo was expected to start until an illness forced him to miss Friday’s practice. Freshman guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands started in Ringo’s place.
Miami outscored Rio Grande off the bench, 56-13, and in the paint, 64-24.
Rio Grande was Miami’s second National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II opponent this season. The RedHawks walloped Midway, 123-40, on Nov. 29. Midway and Rio Grande both play in the River States Conference.
First-year Miami coach Jack Owens was happy to see his young team – four freshman started –
avoid the dual traps of an exams hangover and playing down to the level of a small opponent.
“(Rio Grande’s) head coach said the same thing about our focus and approach,” Owens said. “I was happy to see that. You can get caught in finals week. It was great to get this game behind us with finals week.”
Miami, which has won four of its last five games and is 7-4 for the first time since the 2008-2009 season, wrapped up its non-conference home schedule. The RedHawks are scheduled to play at DePaul at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday and at Ohio State on Dec. 30 at noon before opening their Mid-American Conference schedule with a 7 p.m. game at East Division-rival Bowling Green on Jan. 2.
Miami’s next home game is scheduled for Jan. 6 against Western Michigan of the MAC West. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. as the second half of a women’s-men’s doubleheader that is due to start with the RedHawk women facing another West Division team, Central Michigan, at 1 p.m.
Bowman believes his game and his team’s can carry over into MAC play.
“(Rio Grande) was a good team,” he said. “We know MAC play is a different world. We just have to keep working.”
The RedStorm (5-10), who include 6-foot-4 sophomore forward and Mason High School product Cameron Schrieter on their roster, went into Sunday with three wins in their last four games and five in their last nine after opening the season on a five-game losing streak.
Rio Grande senior guard Will Hill led both teams with 27 points, a single-game season high for a Miami opponent this season. The previous high was 25 by Long Island University-Brooklyn’s Joel Hernandez in a 78-74 RedHawks’ win on Nov. 17
Bowman and Ringo each scored four points during a 10-2 run that left Miami leading, 22-10, with 10:47 left in the first half. The RedHawks pushed the lead to 20 points, 33-13, during an 11-1 run that started with a Bowman 3-pointer and ended with Sibande tipping in McLane’s missed free throw.
Miami led, 54-25, at halftime behind Bowman’s 11 points – two more than his previous single-game career-high – and Sibande’s 10. The RedHawks finished the half with 16 defensive rebounds, two more than Rio Grande’s halftime total, and outscored the RedStorm, 40-18, in the paint.
Miami was whistled for just two fouls in the first half and one in the first 15 minutes and that was a technical on Sibande for hanging on the rim after a dunk.