As if Miami and Ohio aren’t familiar enough with each other, their Mid-American Conference East Division matchup on Friday at Millett Hall was a preview of a conference tournament opener.
The RedHawks went into the game possessing the tournament’s seventh seed, which guaranteed them a first-round home game with Akron, Central Michigan and Ohio looming as possible opponents.
They kept the seed despite losing, 75-66, to the Bobcats before a crowd of 2,900. The loss was Miami’s second straight after winning two in a row, including an upset of overall MAC regular-season champion Buffalo.
The RedHawks will host the 10th-seeded Bobcats at 7 p.m. Monday.
The top four MAC teams earn first-round byes. The next four play first-round games at home.
Freshman Nike Sibande scored a career-high 23 points to lead Miami in a game that featured 13 ties and 16 lead changes before the Bobcats took charge. Freshman guard Jalen Adaway added 13 and freshman Dalonte Brown and senior Logan McLane each finished with 10 for the RedHawks, who were outrebounded, 38-26.
Brown also piled up 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
“We started the game OK, but we didn’t execute in the second half the way we needed to to win the game,” first-year coach Jack Owens said. “We gave up some offensive rebounds.”
Ohio had nine offensive rebounds to Miami’s five, allowing the Bobcats to build a 12-2 advantage in second-chance points and outscore the RedHawks, 36-24, in the paint.
“They did a good job crashing the glass,” Owens said of the Bobcats. “A team like that is either going to make a (3-pointer) or make you play defense for another 30 seconds. There was a loose-ball deflection they came up and made a three, and another time where they got an offensive rebound and made a three.”
Ohio junior guard Jordan Dartis sank three 3-pointers and scored 11 points during a 13-1 Bobcats’ run that left them with the game’s largest lead, 61-52, with 8:57 left in the game.
“In the second half, we came out and didn’t execute our plays the way we wanted do,” Sibande said. “It’s hard to win when you don’t execute your plays and finish out your assignment.
“The toughest challenge playing them is finishing the full 40 minutes. We either come out slow or finish slow.”
Miami forced Ohio into 17 turnovers while committing 11, leading to an 18-9 RedHawks’ advantage in points off turnovers that helped them stay in the game.
Miami (15-16, 8-10 MAC) has played Ohio (14-16, 7-11) more than any other team, and the Bobcats have won the last seven games and 14 of the last 15 in the “Battle of the Bricks” series, including a 92-87 overtime win on Feb. 17 in Athens.
McLane and classmate Rod Mills both started on Senior Night. The start was Mills’s first of the season. He started in place of Brown, who didn’t start for the first time this season. The seniors were honored in a post-game ceremony.
Neither team led by more than five points in a first half that included eight tie scores and nine lead changes. The score was tied for 7:41, while Miami led for 6:34 and Ohio for 5:45. Adaway and Sibande each scored nine points to lead the RedHawks before halftime.
Junior guard Darrian Ringo, who set Miami’s single-season assists record during the RedHawks’ 90-83 overtime loss at Kent State on Tuesday, had three steals before halftime to move past Ron Harper into second place on the program’s single-season steals list. Harper, who was in second place with 82, also holds the record with 101.
Ringo finished with five steals.
TBA at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN3, 980, 1450, 1230
About the Author