Miami still has a month and a day left in the men’s basketball season, but the RedHawks already have surpassed their win total from last season.
Freshman forward Dalonte Brown led five Miami players in double figures with 17 points and the RedHawks improved to 12-10 overall and 5-4 in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 79-64 win over the Akron Zips before a season-high weeknight crowd of 1,808 at Millett Hall.
Sophomore forward Bam Bowman scored 13 points, junior guard Darrian Ringo and freshman guard Nike Sibande each added 12 and senior forward Logan McLane finished with 10 for Miami, which has won three of its last four games.
The RedHawks are just halfway through the MAC season, but they already have one more conference win than they logged last season.
“We’re not looking at last year,” first-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “This is a new team. We’re just trying to move forward and position ourselves for the conference tournament.”
“I think we’ve grown as a team a lot,” Bowman said. “We’re just trying to get better each game.”
Ringo continued his breathless assault on Miami’s single-season record books. Ringo turned in six assists in the first half, giving him 167 on the season and allowing him to move past the 166 Rob Mesta piled up in 2000 for fourth place on the program’s single-season assists list. Eric Washington is third with 176 assists in 2015.
Ringo finished the game with 11 assists for a double-double and 172 on the season.
Ringo also came up with four steals to boost his season total to 59, passing Quinten Rollins with 58 in 2013 Jamie Mahaffey with 59 in 1994 and tying the 60 racked up by Michael Weathers last season for the fifth on the single-season steals list. Ron Harper is fourth with 62 in 1983.
Daniel Utomi and Malcolm Duvivier each scored 13 points to lead Akron (10-11, 3-6). Eric Parrish also reach double figures with 10 points. Freshman guard Torrey Patton, a Thurgood Marshall graduate, scored two points in nine minutes for the Zips.
Jimond Ivey, who set a program single-game scoring record with 48 points in Akron’s double-overtime loss to Ball State on Saturday, could manage only seven in 31 minutes. The Zips, who went into the game leading the MAC with an average of 10.3 3-pointers per game, sank seven.
The RedHawks will play their next two games on the road against two MAC West Division teams, Saturday at Northern Illinois and Tuesday at Western Michigan. Their run through the West continues with a home game against Toledo on Feb. 9. That game was moved up from Feb. 10.
Miami, which struggled with an extended shooting slump against Eastern Michigan’s zone defense during Saturday’s 58-48 loss , had similar problems early against Akron’s man-to-man. The RedHawks missed six of seven shots in one stretch, opening the door for the Zips to put together a 14-2 run for a 19-6 lead.
The RedHawks finally found their eye as Akron cooled off. Miami sank six of seven shots during a 12-0 run that gave them their first lead, 26-24, on Logan McLane’s jump hook with 7:08 left in the first half. They ended the half on a 10-0 run that started with Bowman’s two free throws and a 3-pointer and ended with Ringo’s two free throws and a 3-pointer for a 41-31 lead.
“After a slow start, we got going, offensively and defensively,” Owens said. “Once we got going and took the lead, we did a good job on the offensive end.”
The beefy 6-foot-8, 275-pound Bowman, who had two 3-pointers in the game and now has 16 this season, relishes opponents’ reactions when he steps out and sinks a 3-pointer.
“They’re usually blank,” he said. “They don’t think I can shoot. It’s a nice surprise.”
Miami never trailed after Bowman’s two free throws gave them a 33-31 lead with 2:54 left in the first half.
“Bam’s a good player,” Owens said. “When (the opponent) has to stop dribble penetration, he can pick-and-pop. He can hit the 3-pointer and score with his back to the basket. We’ve got to keep him involved.”