College basketball: RedHawks ripped by Rockets

OXFORD — Just when it looked as if Miami was building momentum going into the Mid-American Conference men’s basketball tournament, the RedHawks hit a speed bump on Tuesday – or more like a brick wall.

The Toledo Rockets opened the game at Millett Hall with an 11-0 run and led by as many as 38 points on the way to a 97-63 win before a crowd of 1,847.

“Give Toledo credit,” second-year RedHawks coach Travis Steele said. “That’s the best they’ve played all year. They’re three-time MAC champions for a reason. They made shots.”

The Rockets placed four players in double figures, including Springfield product Ra’Heim Moss with 10. Freshman wing Eian Elmer was the only RedHawk to reach double figures with 18.

The Rockets limited Miami’s Darweshi Hunter to two points after he scored 18 in the first matchup between the two teams. They limited 6-8 senior Anderson Mirambeaux, who was leading Miami with an average of 12.9 points per game, to six points. Mirambeaux had only three shots before sinking a 3-pointer with 6:22 left in the game.

Steele didn’t notice Toledo doing anything different to stymie Mirambeaux and Hunter.

“They did exactly what we prepared for,” said Steele, who drew a technical foul in the first half. “You’ve got to be tough.

“They played really well. The analytics say they’re won of the worst defensive teams in the league. They played defense tonight.”

“There was really no difference from the first game,” Elmer said. “We were just flat.”

Miami was riding a season-best three-game win streak and had won four of its last five going into the game to move to fifth in the conference, one game behind Central Michigan. The RedHawks had clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament, which is scheduled to start on March 14 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

Miami slipped to 15-15 overall and 9-8 in the MAC going into its regular-season finale on Friday against Ohio. The RedHawks lost, 79-68, at Ohio on Feb. 3.

“We’ve got to focus,” Elmer said. “We’ve got another big game. We can’t hang our head.”

Toledo improved to 19-11 overall and 13-4 in the MAC with a second straight win following two consecutive losses.

The Rockets extended their winning streak in the series against Miami to 22, including a 68-64 win in Toledo on Jan. 5.

The Rockets’ 97 points were the most allowed by Miami this season.

On an unseasonably warm March day, Miami came out ice cold, missing its first five shots from the field while the Rockets sank five of their first six and seven of their first nine while rushing to a 17-2 lead. Freshman guard Mekhi Cooper scored the RedHawks’ first bucket on a driving layup with 16:30 left in the first half.

Miami allowed just 37 points in its last game, an 15-point win at Eastern Michigan on Saturday.Moss, the 6-4 guard and a Springfield product, finished the first half with seven points on while the Rockets were shooting a blistering 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the field, including 5-of-9 on 3-pointers, and a perfect 17-of-17 on free throws.

The Rockets took charge with advantages of 13-0 in points off turnovers and 11-0 in fast break points by halftime on the way to a 54-24 lead.

Toledo went into the game leading the 12-team MAC with averages of 79.9 points per game, a .479 field-goal percentage and a .371 3-point percentage.

Miami ranked second in the conference with averages of 68.9 points allowed per game and a .371 opponents’ 3-point percentage.


Ohio at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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