OXFORD — Early in the second half Saturday’s Mid-American Conference game against Central Michigan, Miami seemed to be on its way to a second consecutive win, but foul trouble left the RedHawks short-handed enough for the visiting Chippewas to come from behind and pull out a 66-60 win.
Senior Anderson Mirambeaux and junior Morgan both fouled out in the last six minutes, and the RedHawks couldn’t overcome the losses.
Senior Mekhi Lairy led the RedHawks with 18 points. Freshman Ryan Mabrey added 11 points.
“We were prepared,” the 5-foot-8 Lairy said. “We knew it would be a hard-fought game. Their offensive rebounding hurt us.”
Miami (8-17, 2-10), which was outrebounded, 42-22, went into the game tied with Western Michigan for last in the MAC, one game behind tied-for-ninth Central Michigan (9-16, 4-8) and Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, leading to a decisive 12-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“Give Central Michigan credit,” first-year Miami coach Travis Steele said. “They stuck with it. We’ve got learn how to step on somebody’s neck when we have them down.
“I’ve never been around a program with guys who don’t love basketball,” he added without specifying anybody. “You’ve got to live it. You’ve got to get after it. I have no idea what I’m getting from game-to-game. A guy will go 15 (points) one game and zero the next. I have to figure out how to get some consistency from these guys.”
Mirambeaux, the 6-foot--8 transfer from Cleveland State, fouled with 5:47 left in the game with 14 points. The 6-5 Safford, a transfer from Wofford, fouled out with 12 points.
“I had to take them both earlier when they got into foul trouble,” Steele pointed out. “We’ve got to keep those guys out of foul trouble.”
The RedHawks were trying for two consecutive wins for first time since late-November non-conference wins over Little Rock and Jackson State. They last won back-to-back MAC games in the last two games of last regular season, 75-61 at CMU and 76-63 against EMU.
Miami led by 14 points, 44-30, on a Safford layup with 16:04 left in the second half before Central Michigan started chipping away.
Miami, which snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 85-78 home win over Western Michigan on Wednesday, is scheduled to play at Toledo on Tuesday. The Rockets edged the RedHawks, 81-78, at Millett Hall on Jan. 31. The game is the first of a two-game road trip that will take Miami to Dekalb, Ill., for a Saturday MAC game against a Northern Illinois team that slipped by the RedHawks, 81-77, on Jan. 17 in Oxford.
Miami’s next home game is scheduled for Feb. 21 against Bowling Green with a 7 p.m. tipoff. The RedHawks lost, 83-73, at Bowling Green on Jan. 21.
In the afternoon’s first game, Miami’s women slipped to 9-16 overall and 4-8 in the MAC with a 71-58 loss to Toledo (19-4, 10-2). Senior guard Peyton Scott led three RedHawks in double figures with 21 points. Miami went into the game locked in a four-way tie for seventh place in the 12-team MAC and was coming off a 71-53 win over Western Michigan on Wednesday. The RedHawk women are scheduled to play a MAC game at Central Michigan on Wednesday.
The Chippewas lineup included freshman Max Majerle, the son of former Central Michigan and National Basketball Association “Thunder” Dan Majerle. They went into the game having lost three straight, six of seven and eight of 10.
The Chippewas, who beat Miami, 68-56, in both teams’ MAC opener on Jan. 3 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., went into the game as the MAC’s lowest-scoring team, averaging 66.3 points per game. They also were the conference’s worst-shooting team at 41.6 percent and worst 3-point shooting team at 29.3 percent.
Mirambeaux scored 10 points to help Miami lead by as many as eight points in the first half before the Chippewas cut the lead to 30-25 by halftme. Central Michigan built a 21-14 rebounding lead in the first half, primarily due to eight offensive rebounds, but eight turnovers helped keep them from taking advantage. Central Michigan and Miami both finished the half with four second-chance points
Miami at Toledo, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450
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