Miami nets 4th straight victory with 62-50 win over Valpo Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   
Sunday, December 14 2008
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Miami's Michael Bramos had a game-high 28 points
OXFORD, OH - After losing to Valparaiso in a double overtime ESPN Bracket Buster game on the road last year, coach Charlie Coles Miami RedHawks had reason to look forward to a return match-up Saturday at home.

Anxious as they might be, however, they had to wait over an hour until Miamis womens team finished a double overtime game against Butler. When the mens teams finally took the court, Valparaiso again delayed any Miami payback as the Crusaders battled tooth and nail before falling 62-50.  

I think after waiting through two overtimes, both teams were anxious to get out on the floor, said Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, who called it a very physical game. 

This was a huge game for us, especially at home. Our goal is to try to not lose any games here. Miami senior Michael Bramos said. It probably was one of our biggest wins up to this date just because it was a gritty-type, tougher game for us. They matched our intensity, and we matched theirs. It was just a grind-it-out type of game. 

This game was a tough game, Coles echoed. Valpo came in and it was obvious they were going to work for their shots, which is what we like to do, and I think that threw us off a little bit. I know it threw us off in the first half. 

This was a huge game for us, especially at home. Our goal is to try to not lose any games here. -- Michael Bramos

He continued, We were on the other side this (time). Usually teams are frustrated with the way we play sometimes. Well, now we got a little frustrated with Valpo making (so many) passes. And you know what, they ended up with something good almost every time. 

Miami never trailed in the contest and held the lead continuously after an Eric Pollitz jumper at 18:22 of the first half. But Valparaiso trailed by just three (29-26) at the half and was again down three points after Urule Igbavboas layup at 7:49 of the second half.  

Miami, however, had a familiar answer for the Crusader challenge.  

Bramos connected on a trey at 7:18. It was one of six three-point goals (in nine attempts) on the night for Bramos. He has now made 35 of 68 (51.4 percent) of his three-point tries through nine games.

While most Bramos treys draw little iron and lots of net, this shot bounced several times on the rim before falling. I didnt think it was going to bounce in, but I guess when you are shooting well, things like that happen for you. Ill take it. Bramos said of the bounces. 

Saturday marked the fourth consecutive game in which Bramos netted at least six treys. 

Crusaders coach Homer Drew called Bramos shot - and another three-pointer by Nick Winbush a couple minutes later - two of the games more important scores. Those two just kept us out of reach from really putting a run on to make it exciting the last two minutes of the game.  

He continued, At halftime, we were very pleased to be within three points. The second half, we battled back and forth and had a couple chances to take the lead but could not get the ball down. It would have been nice to have the lead just once just to see what would have happened there.

Bramos, who entered the game with a 19.3 points per game average, improved on that with a 28-point performance to lead all scorers. Eric Pollitz was also in double figures with 11.

I thought Eric Pollitz had his best all-around game tonight, Coles said. The 11 points were a season high for Pollitz and one off his career best of 12 against Akron last January. Pollitz and Bramos scored Miamis first 13 points.

Notably absent in the scoring column was Kenny Hayes.

The senior point guard missed Thursdays game against University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a wrist injury. Although he started Saturday, he took only two shots from the field. That wrist was really hurting him, Coles said, adding that he wasnt sure when Hayes might return to his previous level of play.

Guards Michael Rogers and Jake Diebler each scored 10 points to lead Valparaiso.

Igbavboa added nine markers while using his inside game to help the Crusaders stay close. He was working hard. I give him credit, said Miami center Tyler Dierkers, who had to guard Igbavboa with four fouls late in the game. I didnt want to get that fifth foul, so that is a fine line youve got to (deal) with. But he does a great job of getting position and then using his left hand to finish around the rim.

That guy inside, even though he didnt score a lot of points, he did score enough when they needed it. Hes a big guy, Coles said.

Valparaiso had 14 points in the paint during the second half. That helped the Crusaders shoot 58.8 percent from the field after intermission. Valparaiso connected on 51.3 percent for the game. Thirty of their 50 total points came from inside the paint.

Theyre a lot better than their record, Bramos said of the Crusaders, who slipped to 3-6 with the loss. They run a good motion offense. They move pretty well. Theyve got some good parts.

Coles credited Drew with getting his team ready and the Crusaders for executing a good game plan. The Miami coach also passed along some credit for the perseverance of his own  squad.

This was a well-earned victory for us. I like this victory, Coles said. Yeah, there were some things we werent doing right but I thought we played when we had to and we played most of the time when we didn t have to. It was hard-fought, and Im happy with this victory.

Drew, who had a senior-laden club last year but has just three seniors this time around, suggested Miamis current senior class could lead the RedHawks to a very successful season.

We really enjoy Charlie and his staff and really follow (Miami) from afar. We really hope that with the six seniors (Miami has), it could be something very special this year, Drew said.

The RedHawks victory over Valparaiso was the third in three games against Horizon League teams. With a previous win over Temple (which beat No. 8 Tennessee Saturday), Miami (6-3) is on a four-game win streak. All three losses this season came against ranked teams.

Next up for Miami is a road game against coach Bob Huggins West Virginia (7-2) Mountaineers. The two teams meet Saturday Dec. 20.

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