Newcomer Mirambeaux scores 27, but Miami falls to Evansville in season opener

OXFORD -- Two teams trying to establish identities met Monday at Miami’s Millett Hall in the 2022-2023 season opener.

Evansville and Miami, both bearing rosters loaded with new faces, squared off in the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader.

The Purple Aces of the Missouri Valley Conference were coming off a 6-24 2021-2022 season. They went into the game with a 12-5 lead in the series against Miami.

The RedHawks finished last season 14-18, costing Jack Owens his coaching job.

Evansville took the lead less than two minutes into the game and held it the rest of the way, pulling out a 78-74 win.

“Obviously, not the result we wanted,” new Miami coach Travis Steele said. “The guys played really, really well. They competed. That’s one of our core values. I just think we tried to make too many home run plays. We have to be tighter on the ball. We gave up too many straight-line drives, but it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up.”

Two of Miami’s newcomers, 6-foot-8, 305-pound Anderson Mirambeaux and 6-5 guard Morgan Safford, led several RedHawks’ comeback attempts. Miami cut the lead to one at 61-60 on a Safford 3-pointer from the right corner with 8:03 left in the game. He left the game and was helped to the locker room with an apparent right leg injury suffered in a battle for a loose ball with 4:20 left in the game, finishing with 12 points.

Mirambeaux led the RedHawks with a career-high 27 points, including a 3-pointer from the left wing that cut Evansville’s lead to 75-72 with 47.4 seconds left, and eight rebounds in a career-high 30:59 minutes. Mirambeaux missed another 3-pointer that would have tied the game, 75-75, with 15 seconds left.

“This was big,” Mirambeaux said. “I was excited. We came back, but we couldn’t finish. We’ll be back.

“I was really excited. This is my time. We’ll be there.”

Senior guard Mekhi Lairy added 11 points for Miami.

The RedHawks are scheduled to play NAIA Division II Goshen (Ind.) College on Saturday at 1 p.m.

In the first game of the season-opening doubleheader, Xavier’s women’s team pulled away in the second half for an 87-68 win over Miami. Sophomore guard Maddi Cluse led the RedHawks with 24 points and tied senior forward Amani Freeman for the team lead with six rebounds. Miami’s women are scheduled to meet Vermont on Friday. Tipoff is set for 10:15 a.m.

Both men’s benches featured coaches in their first seasons with their teams, Miami’s Steele and Evansville’s David Ragland, whose roster included 10 newcomers.

“We had no film on Evansville,” Steele said. “I told the staff I really didn’t know what to expect. I don’t like going in blind, especially with young guys..”

Miami’s starting lineup included four new faces: freshmen guards Ryan Mabrey and Billy Smith, Safford, a transfer from Wofford, and Mirambeaux, a Dominican Republic native and transfer from Cleveland State.

Miami shook off missing seven of their first eight shots and trailing by as many as 14 points to cut the deficit to 36-32 by halftime. The 5-8 Lairy scored seven points, including two free throws with 2.9 seconds left before halftime, to cap an 11-4 half-ending RedHawks run.

Another freshman, guard Eli Yofan, came off the bench to score six first-half points for Miami.

“Our defense was bad early, too,” Steele said. “I thought we were pressing early. We were taking quick shots that led to runouts, and we couldn’t set up our halfcourt defense.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Goshen at Miami, 1 p.m., 980, 1450

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