OXFORD — Four Miami RedHawks reached double figures in scoring, but that wasn’t enough to overcome Sincere Carry’s 31 points and his alley-oop pass that led to a game-clinching dunk.
Facing a Miami zone defense, the Kent State redshirt senior and reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year found classmate Miryne Thomas for a thunderous dunk that left the Golden Flashes with a 65-59 lead with 1:13 left in the game.
“We tried everything on Carry and nothing worked,” first-year Miami coach Travis Steele said.
They expanded the lead to eight before holding on for a 69-66 Mid-American Conference win before a season-high home crowd of 4,091 at Millett Hall in Oxford.
“They have a great team,” Steele said of the Golden Flashes. “They also have a great program. They’re always putting themselves in position to make the NCAA Tournament. It’s in their DNA. We want to get that here.
“We’re getting better,” Steele added. “We’re not perfect. Our effort is really, really good. Their coachability is really good. We’re going in the right direction.”
Fifth-year senior guard Mekhi Lairy led Miami with 17 points and four assists in nearly 34 minutes. Redshirt-junior Morgan Safford scored 15 points and collected a season-high 11 rebounds. Senior Anderson Mirambeaux added 13 points and freshman guard Ryan Mabrey scored 13 in just under 30 minutes.
Miami is scheduled to resume MAC play on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Buffalo at Millett Hall. The Bulls are 8-7 overall and 2-0 in the MAC after winning, 80-62, against Northern Illinois on Saturday.
The RedHawks fell to 6-9 overall and 0-2 in the MAC. They are 3-9 against Division I teams.
The Golden Flashes have won six straight games in the series, including one in last season’s MAC Tournament,
“Sincere is one of the best point guards I’ve ever played against,” Safford said. “Kent State had a great non-conference season. They’re the best team in the league. We’ll see them in the tournament.”
In the opener of Saturday’s women’s-men’s doubleheader, Miami erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead before Akron closed the game with a run that led to a 77-66 win. Sophomore guard Ivy Wolf led four players in double figures with 17 points for the RedHawks, who slipped to 5-10 overall and 0-2 in the MAC with their fifth loss in the last six games. The Zips improved to 11-2 and 2-0.
Relying on a balanced attack and MAC-best scoring defense, Kent State (12-3, 2-0) took a five-game winning streak into the game while Miami had lost two of its last three, including a 68-58 loss at Central Michigan in the MAC opener on Tuesday. The Golden Flashes, last season’s MAC Tournament runnersup and the favorites to win this season’s title in conference’s pre-season coaches’ poll, went into Saturday’s game allowing an average of 61.6 points per game.
The RedHawks took their biggest lead of the game, 53-47, on Kamari Williams’ 3-pointer from the left wing with 8:20 left in the game. Kent State responded with an 11-2 run for a 58-55 lead with 4:15 remaining.
The 6-foot-8 Mirambeaux, a transfer from Cleveland State, was limited by foul trouble to just under 25 minutes. The 6-5 Safford logged just under 37 minutes, but had to play carefully late in the game. Steele felt that helped open the door for Kent State’s comeback.
Safford scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a first half that featured three ties and 10 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points before the Golden Flashes took s 32-31 lead into the locker room. The RedHawks missed five of their first six shots before regrouping, but they turned the ball over eight times, helping Kent State build a 7-3 advantage in points off turnovers.
Buffalo at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450
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