Miami rally falls short vs. Toledo

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

OXFORD -- Miami actually played a home men’s basketball game on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the “homecoming” wasn’t pleasant. The Toledo Rockets overcame a determined Miami comeback bid and held on for a 75-72 Mid-American Conference win at Millett Hall.

The win was Toledo’s third straight and fifth in the last six games. The MAC West Division-leading Rockets (12-4, 4-1) extended their winning streak in the series against Miami to 16. It’s the RedHawks’ longest active losing streak against any MAC team.

Miami (7-7, 1-2 ) has lost two straight after opening the MAC schedule with a91-81 win at Buffalo on Dec. 29. The RedHawks are scheduled to travel to Western Michigan on Saturday at 2 p.m. before returning to Oxford for back-to-back home games against archrival and MAC East-leading Ohio on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Northern Illinois on Jan. 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Toledo native Delonte Brown finished with 14 points to leapfrog over Wayne Embry into 13th place on Miami’s career list. The senior forward now has 1,409 points, one behind David Scott and two behind Tim Pollitz.

Senior guard Mekhi Lairy led Miami with 17 points. Junior guard Dae Dae Grant added 16.

Senior forward Precious Ayah piled up a career-high six blocked shots, the third-most in a single game in program history. Ron Harper and Kevin Beard are tied for first with seven each. Ayah missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Miami still hopes to make up home games against Central Michigan and Akron that were postponed due to pandemic protocols. The RedHawks used the Akron postponement to make up an earlier game at Bowling Green last Saturday, which turned into an 87-83 overtime loss.

Toledo, which went 14-for-14 on free throws, went into the game leading the MAC West by a half-game over Ball State. Miami was involved in a five-way tie for fourth overall and tied with Kent State and Akron for second in the East behind Ohio.

Miami is scheduled to play at Toledo on Feb. 26.

The home game was the RedHawks’ first since beating Division III Spalding, 80-56, on Dec. 1.

Miami got off to a hot start, sinking five of its first seven 3-pointers while opening up an 18-11 lead, but the RedHawks went cold, missing seven of their final eight shots from beyond the ark and committing a rash of unforced turnovers that cost them valuable possessions. The Rockets found holes in Miami’s defense and gashed it several times for layups while finishing the half with a 24-6 advantage on points in the paint while building a 44-33 halftime lead.

The RedHawks borrowed a page from Toledo’s playbook after halftime, attacking the basket more and actually taking two two-point leads midway through the half, but Toledo regained some semblance of control by responding with a 7-0 run and 63-58 lead with six minutes to play.

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