The Miami RedHawks will go into their holiday break with a bit of glow – and only part of it will be caused by decorative lights.
Miami, coming off a disappointing 72-66 loss on Sunday at Northern Kentucky, took control of the game with a devastating blitz to end the first half before finishing off a 79-55 win over South Carolina State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference on Thursday at Millett Hall.
“The guys came up with a complete game,” Miami coach Jack Owens said. “They carried out their assignments, offensively and defensively. (The Bulldogs) had a run midway through the first half, but after the timeout, we got locked in. I think we had a stretch where we stopped them on 13 of 16 possessions and scored about the same number of times. I think there was a lot of carryover from the last game. Guys were upset after the loss.”
Before a crowd of 1,223 that included youth basketball players from Hamilton and Edgewood, sophomore Nike Sibande scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the first half for Miami, which led by as many as 31 points. Sibande tied his single-game season high, reaching 24 points for the third time.
“I thought we bounced back,” Sibande said.
“It’s very nice,” said senior guard Darrian Ringo, who didn’t attempt a shot and came up with five steals in just more than 17 minutes. “It gives us some confidence going into the break.”
Sophomore guard Jalen Adaway also tied his season high 18 points, and sophomore forward Dalonte Brown finished with 11.
The RedHawks dominated on defense and inside offensively. Miami forced 16 turnovers and enjoyed a 23-4 advantage in points off turnovers. Miami also outscored SCS (2-12), 30-14, in the paint and 22-4 in second-chance points while finishing with 44 rebounds to the Bulldogs’ 33.
Miami (7-5) gained a bit of revenge for a 71-67 loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 2, 2016. The RedHawks have won three of their last four games.
As the margin widened, the RedHawks allowed themselves a bit of fun, including Ringo’s behind-the-back bounce pass to junior center forward Bam Bowman, who sank a wide-open 3-pointer for a 66-37 lead with 9:57 left in the game.
“Seriously, he was just in the locker room complaining about the pass,” Ringo said with straight face. “He said it was too low. I told him it was a perfect pass.”
Brown left the game and didn’t return after getting tangled up with SCS guard Allen Hatchett Jr. during a fast break with 1:20 left in the first half. Brown walked off gingerly under his own power.
“It’s too early to tell,” Owens said about the extent of Brown’s injury. “We hope he’s back soon. We need him.”
The RedHawks are off until returning to practice on Wednesday and aren’t scheduled to play again until wrapping up the non-conference schedule on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. against Evansville at Millett Hall in the second of four consecutive home games.
“When we get back, we’ll have three or four days of solid practice,” Owens said. “I told the guys to do something for 30 or 40 minutes every day while they’re home – do some cardio, get some shots up. Evansville is a good team. We have to be ready.”
Miami led by 11, 17-6, with 13:04 left in the first half before SCS fought back for a 20-20 tie with 9:12 remaining. The RedHawks responded by ending the half with a 29-6 surge led by Sibande’s 11 points and six from Brown. Miami sank six 3-pointers during the run, capped by a banked floater from Isaiah Coleman-Lands at the buzzer for a 49-26 halftime lead.
“I think we settled into the game,” Ringo said. “We had a lot of energy on the bench, and Nike had it rolling. When he has it rolling like that, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Four different RedHawks went into halftime with four rebounds, helping Miami open up a solid 23-12 advantage on the boards.