Miami RedHawks: Hunter’s buzzer-beater lifts Miami past first-place Akron

OXFORD — It’s difficult to imagine that there’s a college basketball player in the country having more fun this season than Darweshi Hunter.

For the third time in just more than a month, the Miami University graduate student sank a clutch buzzer-beating 17-foot jump shot on Saturday to lift the RedHawks to a 70-68 Mid-American Conference win over first-place Akron before a crowd of 1,408 at Millett Hall in Oxford.

“I’m having a lot of fun – beating the No. 1 team with a buzzer-beating game-winner” the 6-foot-4 Hunter said.

“I just shoot like I always shoot,” he added. “The moment doesn’t matter.”

The shot with one second left was remarkably similar to the banked-in 3-pointer he hit to beat Vermont, 70-69, at the buzzer in a non-conference game on Dec. 22.

On Jan. 20 at Ball State, his 3-pointer at the buzzer forced overtime in a MAC game won by the RedHawks, 87-80.

“Obviously, another big shot,” second-year Miami coach Travis Steele said. “We were going to get the ball to him.”

Steele couldn’t recall a player having a run similar to Hunter’s.

“Not really,” he said. “Nobody I’ve coached. He works hard. He treats the game like a pro. He’s ready for those moments.”

The officials put one second on the clock, but freshman Eian Eimer’s interception at the Akron free-throw line of the Zips’ last-second inbounds pass clinched Miami’s second win in three games, lifting its record to 10-10 overall and 4-4 in the MAC. Senior center Anderson Mirambeaux led the RedHawks with 19 points. Eimer and Hunter each scored 13, and freshman Evan Ipsaro had 10 to help snap Akron’s win streak at seven games.

“That was a huge win,” Steele said. " We were very fortunate to win.”

The Zips went 20-of-25 on free throws to Miami’s 15-of-22 and still slipped to 15-5 and 7-1.

The game featured a matchup of half-brothers Steele of Miami and Akron coach John Groce. Their mom, Barbara, was on hand.

Saturday’s game opened a challenging stretch of Miami’s schedule. After facing the Zips, who were picked to win the MAC regular-season championship in a pre-season coaches’ poll, the RedHawks are scheduled to play on Tuesday at Kent State, the defending MAC Tournament champion which was projected to finish second. Kent State went into Saturday tied with Miami and Ohio for sixth in the MAC.

The RedHawks then are due to play on Saturday at archrival Ohio before returning home on Feb. 6 to face Northern Illinois. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Miami went into the game tied with Kent State and Ohio for sixth in the MAC.

Miami outscored Akron, 26-12, in the paint and 34-14 off the bench, but still let an 11-point lead get away as the Zips tied the score with 13.2 seconds left.

“We still felt like we would win,” Hunter said. “We were in control for most of the game.”

Akron, which went into the game leading the MAC with an average of 8.8 3-pointers per game, connected on three of its first four 3-pointers and six of its first nine while opening up leads of 15-4 and 21-13, but the Zips cooled off, giving the RedHawks the opportunity to take their own 11-point lead with just fewer than five minutes left before settling for a 41-32 halftime advantage. Graduate forward Bryce Bultman scored nine points and Elmer and Ipsaro had eight each in the half.

The Zips finished 10-of-25 on 3-pointers.

Hunter connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 13-0 Miami run that left the RedHawks with a 29-23 lead with 6:59 left in the half. The first was a bank from Hunter from the right wing reminiscent of his Vermont game-winner.


Miami at Kent State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

About the Author