Miami falls to Ohio in regular-season finale

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

OXFORD — Like many men’s basketball conferences, sorting through the jumble that governs seeding for the Mid-American Conference tournament can be headache-inducing.

What is true is the Miami RedHawks did themselves no favors with their performance in the last two games of the regular season.

After giving up a season-high 97 points in a season-worst 34-point loss to Toledo on Tuesday, Miami responded by on Friday by blowing a late first-half 13-point lead on the way to a 72-59 loss to the arch-rival Ohio Bobcats in the regular-season finale.

“We got our (butts) kicked,” second-year RedHawks coach Travis Steele said.

“They took us out of our offense,” said 6-foot-5 graduate-student wing Bryce Bultman, who finished with 11 points. “They put up a lot of ball pressure and made it hard for us to run our stuff. We’ve had to figure it out over the last couple of games.”

Miami was outscored, 46-32, in the second half after going into halftime with a 27-26 lead. Ohio shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the field in the second half, including 46.2 percent (6-of-13) on 3-pointers, in the second half after shooting just 25 percent (9-of-36) from the field and the same on 3-pointers (3-of-12) in the first half.

“We have to search for leadership,” Steele said. “We were up by seven at one point and we were acting like we were down by 30.

“We shot only 40 percent (10-of-25) in the first half,” Steele added. “That stinks. We had too many live ball turnovers.”

The RedHawks fell to 15-16 overall and 9-9 in the MAC after a second straight home loss at Millett Hall in Oxford after a three-game winning streak. They went into the game technically tied with Bowling Green for fifth in the MAC, one game ahead of Kent State and Western Michigan as the MAC closed the regular season on Friday with a full slate of games.

Miami committed 18 turnovers, leading to Ohio’s 25-12 advantage in points off of turnovers.

“You’re not going to win many games with 18 turnovers,” Steele said.

The RedHawks’ bench, which went into the game leading the MAC and ranked 20th in bench scoring, was outscored, 12-5, by Ohio’s bench and 32-22 on points in the paint and, 18-10 in second-chance points and 13-4 in  fast break points.

Ohio, which beat Miami, 78-69, in Athens on February 3, improved to 20-12 overall and 14-5 in the MAC with a sixth straight win before a crowd of 3,506.

The loss and Western Michigan’s upset of Akron left Miami with the seventh seed and facing a first-round matchup with the Zips in third game of the four-game first round of the MAC Tournament on Thursday at Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland. The first game, between top-seeded Toledo and eighth-seeded Kent State, is set to tipoff at 11 a.m.

Senior Anderson Mirambeaux led Miami with 13 points on Friday. Freshman win Eian Elmer scored 12 and freshman Mekhi Cooper matched Bultman with 11 points on a night when the program honored its seniors and the memory of long-time coach Charlie Coles.

“I remember when I was young and inexperienced and I sent a shoe to Coach Coles with a note that said I wanted to get my foot in the door,” Steele recalled. “He said he admired my approach, but I was too inexperienced.”

The RedHawks will take Saturday off, watch video of the Ohio game and work out on Sunday, take Monday off and practice Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Cleveland.

“We’ll see it and own it,” Steele said about the Ohio game.

“Me and the other seniors have to step up,” said Bultman, honored with Mirambeaux and 6-4 graduate wing Darweshi Hunter in Senior Night activities before the game. “We have to be better role models.”


Miami vs. Akron, TBA, ESPN+, 980, 1450

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