College basketball: RedHawks return to court, top Calumet College

OXFORD — After losing by 27 points at home to Indiana State on Dec. 3, the Miami RedHawks felt compelled to adjust their outlook by looking inward.

“We talked all week about how it was about us — not the opponent,” senior guard Mekhi Lairy said Sunday afternoon, referring to himself and fellow captains Anderson Mirambeaux and Morgan Safford. “We had to focus on the basis like defense and executing the offense. I think we did a good job of that today.

“Morgan Safford has been around for a while. He knows what it takes.”

Safford, a junior forward and transfer from Wofford, scored a team-high 17 points in 27:37 to lead Miami to an 85-49 win over National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II Calumet College.

“We were making the right plays and playing hard,” first-year coach Travis Steele said. “We got off to a good start. Offensively, we played well.”

The 5-foot-8 Lairy played 27:25 and 6-5 Mirambeaux 22:40 while each adding 15 for Miami, which improved to 4-5 and 2-0 against NAIA Division II teams. Lairy scored 12 of his points after halftime

Billy Smith, a 6-foot-7 freshman guard, finished with 13 points in 28:11.

After taking the week off from games for exams, the RedHawks started a stretch of three games in seven days. They are scheduled to follow up Sunday’s game with their first set of back-to-back road games of the season, at Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Bellarmine in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Miami’s next home game is scheduled for Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. against Wright State.

“We didn’t practice for three days because of exams,” Steele said. “We wanted them to focus on finals.”

The combination of winter vacation, a little-known opponent and the “Battle of Ohio” between the Bengals and Browns probably helped limit attendance to a season-low 771 at Millett Hall.

Miami never trailed and led by as many as 36 over the Crimson Wave of Whiting in northwest Indiana. Calumet plays in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Eli Yofan, a 6-2 freshman guard from Greater Cincinnati, made his first career start while 6-8 redshirt-junior forward Javin Etzler returned from injury to play 12:23 in his first action of the season. Yofan scored three points and led the RedHawks with seven rebounds in 25:30.

“Guys are coming back,” Lairy said. “We’re taking it day-by-day.”

Steele is hopeful that 6-7 junior forward Kamari Williams, sideline all season with academic issues, will be available on Wednesday once grades are posted.

“It’s in the professors’ hands now,” said Steele, adding that 6-5 freshman guard Ryan Mabrey sat out the second half with a foot problem that the coach expects to be cleared up by Wednesday.

Mirambeaux, a transfer from Cleveland State, scored all 15 of his points in 10:56 and the 6-5 Safford added 14 in 14:49 while helping Miami lead by as many as 26 points in the first half before settling for a 47-23 halftime lead. Safford’s dunk with 2:07 left before halftime gave the RedHawks a 43-19 lead.

Mirambeaux and Safford combined to go 13-of-15 before halftime.

Miami shot 54.3 percent (19-of-35) from the field, including 53.8 percent (7-of-13) on 3-pointers while forcing 12 turnovers in the first half.

Steele was happy with Miami’s 23 assists, which matched the team’s single-game season high, but he was bothered by the RedHawks’ 15 turnovers, which Calumet turned into 17 points.

“We had 23 assists, but we probably would’ve had a lot more if he didn’t turn the ball over so much,” he noted. “We have to work on taking care of the ball better.”


Miami at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 1450

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