Miami went into Saturday’s Mid-American Conference game against Akron in desperate need of a win.
The RedHawks were on a four-game losing streak, all in the MAC and by an average of 14 points, and they were hoping to avoid their second 0-5 conference start in four seasons and first since the 2015-2016 team dropped its first seven MAC games.
“I would say we were hungry,” second-year coach Jack Owens said. “We were thirsty to get a win. We talked about trusting the process. If you came to our practices, you’d never know we were 0-4 in the league.”
Before a crowd of 1,202 in the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader at Millett Hall, junior forward Bam Bowman sank three 3-pointers and scored 14 points and senior guard Darrian Ringo came up with a team-high 16 points as Miami took command with a 21-2 second-half run on the way to 68-61win over the Zips.
“It feels amazing,” said the 6-foot-8 Bowman, who outscored Ringo and Nike Sibande from beyond the arc. “I wouldn’t call it a relief. I would call it more of a payoff for coming in here for practice and working hard. We finally put 40 minutes together of playing our style.”
Bowman and Ringo led a balanced scoring attack in which 10 players scored at least two points and sophomore guard Milos Jovic scored six for the RedHawks during the decisive run. Ringo gave Miami (9-9, 1-4) the lead for good at 44-43 with a 3-pointer with 10:19 left in the game. Jovic finished with nine, leading a bench effort that produced a whopping 23-4 margin in points off the bench.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can come in and bring something to the table,” Jovic said.
“We’ve talked about find guys that will do whatever it takes for Miami to win,” Owens said. “We’ve talked to guys like Milos and Precious (Ayah) and told them to ‘Stay the course. You’re going to help us win some games.’”
Bowman hauled in 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double and help the RedHawks dominate the boards They finished with a 43-31 advantage in rebounds over Akron, helping overcome making just 11 of 20 free throws.
Ringo just missed a double-double with nine assists as Miami won its fourth straight game against Akron.
Miami’s turnaround run started after Owens called a 30-second timeout following Akron’s 7-0 spurt that left the Zips (10-8, 2-3) leading, 43-36. After the timeout, Akron went more than eight minutes without scoring.
“He told us to focus on rebounding and defense and guarding our man,” Bowman said. “We got some stops. Once we were able to do that, it opened the game up for us.”
In the opener, junior guard Lauren Dickerson logged her first career double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds and junior forward Savannah Kluesner added 18 points as Miami squeezed past Ball State, 60-57. Senior guard Leah Purvis sank a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to give the RedHawks the lead for good, and Miami went 4-for-6 on free throws in the last minute to secure the win. The game featured 16 lead changes.
The women have won two of their last three games to improve to 3-2 in the MAC and 12-4 overall for the first time since the 2011-2012 team started 13-4.
The RedHawk men are scheduled to travel to Muncie, Ind., on Tuesday for an inter-division matchup with Ball State before returning home on Saturday to face Bowling Green at 3:30 p.m. in the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The women are scheduled to meet Kent State at 1 p.m. after getting a week off.
Nine different RedHawks scored Akron in the first half, which ended in a 30-30 tie. Bowman and Abdoulaye Harouna, making his second start of the season, each sank two 3-pointers to share the team scoring lead with six points. Miami ended the half with an 11-4 run.