Late free throw sends Miami past Buffalo

Miami guard Dion Wade (20), avoids a defender during their season opener against Muskingum, at Millett Hall in Oxford, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Miami guard Dion Wade (20), avoids a defender during their season opener against Muskingum, at Millett Hall in Oxford, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Dion Wade had to wait until Miami’s seventh Mid-American Conference game to shoot his first free throw in MAC play.

He made it count.

The 6-foot-6 native of Belgium and transfer from Auburn sank the first of two free throws with 1.4 seconds left in the game to give the RedHawks a 75-74 win over Buffalo in a MAC East Division game before 1,293 at Millett Hall on Tuesday night.

“It was a crazy moment when I got the call,” said Wade, who was fouled while players were trying to corral a rebound. “I just took it on myself to win the game for our team. I’ve shot a million free throws in my life and this was just another one. We really needed a win.”

“I was not aware of that,” Miami coach John Cooper said about Wade not having shot any MAC free throws. “I thought the second one was in, too.”

Freshman guard Marcus Weathers scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half while his twin brother, Michael, was scoring 14 of his 16 to lead Miami (9-11, 2-5) back from a 16-point deficit to the win that snapped a five-game losing streak.

Wade, whose free throw was his only point of the game, credited the losing streak with giving Miami motivation for the comeback.

“We were tired of losing,” he said. “We practiced hard the last couple of days. We put in too much work to be down by 16.”

Michael Weathers capped the comeback by tying the game, 64-64, with two free throws with 4:21 left in the game. Miami actually grabbed a four-point lead. 72-68, on junior Logan McLane’s jump hook with 1:08 left, but Marcus Weathers picked up his fifth foul while C.J. Massinburg was sinking a 3-pointer, and Massinburg made the free throw to tie the game.

Miami regained the lead on two Jake Wright free throws with 38 seconds left, but Nick Perkins tied it again on a layup, giving him 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half.

After playing four of their previous five games on the road, the RedHawks opened a stretch of five home games out of six, which continues Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Eastern Michigan. The Eagles went into Wednesday’s MAC home game against Ball State tied with Northern Illinois for first place in the West Division.

Saturday’s game is the nightcap of a doubleheader that is due to start with a women’s game against arch-rival Ohio at 1 p.m.

Both coaches wore sneakers and the RedHawk players wore pink socks as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer effort.

Junior forward Abdoulaye Harouna missed his first start of the season after struggling with back spasms in practice Monday. Freshman forward Ben Eke Kazee was ill and also not available.

Miami needed a 7-1 half-closing run to go into halftime trailing, 39-31, after being down by as many as 16 points, 31-15, with 8:42 left in the half. The Bulls used a 10-0 run to open up an 18-8 lead less than eight minutes into the game. Mills scored seven points in the first half after scoring a total of just four in 20 minutes while the RedHawks were erupting for a season-high 92 in their 101-92 loss on Saturday at Central Michigan.

“Obviously, we struggled in the first half,” said Cooper, who picked up his 100th career win. “We started decent, but then we went into a lull. We were short of numbers. We did a good job of cutting the lead before walking off at halftime. The second half, we did a better job. We got the ball inside and did a much better job defending. We only had two turnovers in the second half.

“We figured out a way to win.”

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