Women’s college basketball: Late turnover seals Miami’s WNIT loss to WKU

Miami University’s Kristen Levering (10) eyes the basket during Thursday night’s 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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Miami University’s Kristen Levering (10) eyes the basket during Thursday night’s 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

OXFORD — The Miami University women’s basketball team was outrebounded by 11 and went 1-of-3 on free throws while Western Kentucky was going 17-of-21, but the RedHawks still had a chance with six seconds left to tie or take the lead Thursday night.

Then a Miami player zigged when Lauren Dickerson thought she was going to zag. The junior guard’s pass sailed into the backcourt, a turnover that cost the RedHawks that last chance and propelled visiting WKU to a 67-63 win in a WNIT first-round game before 338 fans at Millett Hall.

“It was a miscommunication,” said Dickerson, the first-team All-Mid-American Conference pick who scored a game-high 25 points and led both teams with five assists. “We went out fighting. So many people stepped up. We played our hearts out.

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Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson makes a pass in the paint during Thursday night’s 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. ScOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson makes a pass in the paint during Thursday night’s 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. ScOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson makes a pass in the paint during Thursday night’s 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. ScOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

“We were able to stay tight as a team. Even with all of those things going wrong, we were still in the game. You keep thinking, ‘If we had gotten one more rebound or done one thing better, maybe that would’ve made a difference.’ ”

Kendall McCoy, one of four Miami seniors who played their last game, tied her single-game career high with five 3-pointers and added 15 points for the RedHawks, who finished 23-9. They are a combined 44-20 over the last two seasons under coach Megan Duffy.

“I just really feel for those four seniors,” said Duffy, who played at Chaminade Julienne and Notre Dame. “It’s going to make it tougher in the offseason knowing that, if we had done this better or that better, we might still be playing. But I was proud of those four seniors and the way they bought into the new coaching staff.”

Miami has lost five consecutive nonconference postseason tournament games since winning a WNIT first-round game at Xavier (77-65) on March 7, 2004. Thurday’s game was the RedHawks’ second WNIT first-round loss in two seasons under Duffy.

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Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson defends Western Kentucky’s Whitney Creech during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson defends Western Kentucky’s Whitney Creech during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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Miami University’s Lauren Dickerson defends Western Kentucky’s Whitney Creech during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

WKU focused on penetrating and dishing to offset Miami’s 3-point shooting. The RedHawks were 10-of-27 on 3-pointers, while WKU was just 2-of-13 while outscoring Miami 30-20 in the paint.

“We talked for three days about how the rebounding battle would be key,” Duffy said. “They got too many offensive rebounds. Even if they don’t score, that gives you confidence. I was real disappointed with our third quarter. When we play good defense, we look like a different team. They just beat us a lot off the dribble.”

The RedHawks led for the entire first half and most of the third quarter before Western Kentucky (19-14) put together a 17-0 run to grab a 51-42 lead. Dickerson closed out the quarter with five unanswered points and McCoy hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth period, which featured four lead changes.

“I got my confidence back,” McCoy said. “I felt good about hitting some big shots.”

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Miami University’s Leah Purvis (21) launches a shot Thursday night during a 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Miami University’s Leah Purvis (21) launches a shot Thursday night during a 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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Miami University’s Leah Purvis (21) launches a shot Thursday night during a 67-63 WNIT loss to visiting Western Kentucky at Millett Hall in Oxford. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Dickerson broke free for a wide-open layup that tied the score at 63 with 42 seconds left, but Alexis Brewer connected on a runner with 21.1 seconds left to give WKU the lead for good. Miami called a timeout and worked the ball around, probing for an opening, before the crucial turnover.

McCoy finished the first quarter with as many points as the entire WKU team, pushing Miami to a 20-9 lead going into the second quarter. The RedHawks’ offense stalled to open the second stanza and WKU cut their lead to 22-19 within the first four minutes, but Dickerson scored seven points while Miami was putting together a 13-6 run for a 35-25 lead before Brewer sank a jumper at the halftime buzzer to cut the lead to 35-27.

WKU outrebounded the RedHawks 21-12 in the first half, but Miami forced the Hilltoppers into 11 turnovers while committing only three.

Western Kentucky 9-18-24-16—67

Miami 20-15-12-16—63

WESTERN KENTUCKY (19-14): Dee Givens 5 10 20; Raneem Elgedawy 6 5 17; Alexis Brewer 7 1 16; Whitney Creech 4 0 8; Arame Niang 1 0 3; Sherry Porter 1 1 3. Totals: 24-17-67

MIAMI (23-9): Lauren Dickerson 11 0 25; Kendall McCoy 5 0 15; Baleigh Reed 3 1 7; Leah Purvis 2 0 6; Savannah Kluesner 1 0 2; Kristen Levering 2 0 4; Kennedy Taylor 2 0 4. Totals: 26-1-63

3-point goals: W 2 (Brewer, Niang), M 10 (McCoy 5, Dickerson 3, Purvis 2)

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Miami University’s Savannah Kluesner (32) gets a shot off past Western Kentucky’s Raneem Elgedawy (15) during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Miami University’s Savannah Kluesner (32) gets a shot off past Western Kentucky’s Raneem Elgedawy (15) during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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Miami University’s Savannah Kluesner (32) gets a shot off past Western Kentucky’s Raneem Elgedawy (15) during Thursday night’s WNIT game at Millett Hall in Oxford. WKU won 67-63. SCOTT KISSELL/MIAMI UNIVERSITY

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