It was a fast-paced slugfest that lacked a storybook ending for Miami University’s men’s basketball team.
The RedHawks had a one-point lead in the final two minutes Wednesday night, but missed the front end of the bonus and a last-second layup as visiting Massachusetts escaped with a 70-69 victory at Millett Hall.
Allen Roberts sank five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for MU, which slipped to 5-7 and will open Mid-American Conference play at home against Northern Illinois next Wednesday.
“I thought we played with enough effort (to win),” Miami coach John Cooper said. “We’re getting better. I liked the way we competed. I think we’ve come a ways from where we started.”
Chaz Williams’ floater in the paint with 1:12 remaining proved to be difference before a crowd of 898, giving the Minutemen a 70-69 advantage.
The RedHawks’ Quinten Rollins misfired on the front end of the 1-and-1 with 44.3 seconds left. It was the only second-half free throw the hosts missed out of nine attempts.
Reggie Johnson rebounded a UMass off-the-mark jumper with 10 seconds on the clock, and MU quickly went the other way. Will Sullivan drove to the basket, but couldn’t get his shot to fall, and Raphiael Putney rebounded for the Minutemen at the buzzer.
“I had an opportunity to call a timeout when we got the rebound and decided not to,” Cooper said. “It was a little bit of a scramble and they were in transition defense, and I thought there was an opportunity for us to get a pretty good look. We got right to the backboard, so it’s pretty hard for me to design a play that gets us to the backboard like that.
“Will just missed it, but he made a lot of plays during the game that kept us in it. So I’ll take that shot every time.”
Sullivan grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, with Miami once again getting handled on the boards (48-32). Putney brought a 6.2 scoring average into the contest and tallied 20 points for Massachusetts (9-3), which ran its winning streak to six.
“I figured as much coming to Miami of Ohio,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said of the tight contest. “They’ve played well at home, and I think coach is doing a good job with that team. They’re playing a good style for their personnel.”
The Minutemen had a significant height advantage and plenty of length.
“Their ability with their length was sensational,” Roberts said. “I really didn’t expect them to be that long on the perimeter and in the post. Their guards were also able to block shots while rebounding at the same time. We had to work on adjusting our shots.”
Will Felder and Drew McGhee both tallied 10 points for the RedHawks, who shot 42.6 percent from the floor. Massachusetts shot 39.1 percent.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.