TOLEDO, OH - Outstanding defense met a struggling offense Saturday, and the result was a 53-40 Miami victory over the Toledo Rockets.
Coles' RedHawks top the MAC in defense
I thought the first 10-12 minutes tonight was the best defense weve played all year, Miami coach Charlie Coles said after the contest.
Allowing just 41 and 40 points, respectively, in the last two games, the surging RedHawks have permitted an average of 46 points per game over their last four outings. All four contests were Miami wins and came against MAC West Division teams. Through their first 20 games, the RedHawks rank No. 1 among MAC teams in scoring defense.
Toledos first field goal of the contest was a Mohammed Lo jumper at 12:25. Prior to that, the visitors fashioned an 11-2 lead. Seven of the RedHawk points were provided by Michael Bramos, who led all scorers with 15 points on the afternoon.
Miami extended its advantage to 17 points at one point during the first half despite the absence of Eric Pollitz. The senior was bloodied after catching an inadvertent elbow to the head midway through the half.
Fellow senior Carl Richburg took over the point for Miami and eventually logged 30 minutes of game time, scoring nine points while hitting 3-of-6 from the field. Six of the points were key three-pointers while Miami was building its first half lead.
Both Richburg and Tyler Dierkers had three steals. The latter MAC East Player of the Week last week had another good outing with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Eight were on the offensive glass.
I think Tyler Dierkers and Carl Richburg were probably co-players of the game, Coles said, adding, Were seeing some different things out of (Dierkers) that we havent seen out of a guy in a long time.
Miami shot a healthy 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from the field in the first half, while Toledo was successful on just 4 of 18 (22.2 percent) field goal attempts.
After holding a 30-15 halftime lead, Miami managed to keep the Rockets at a double digit disadvantage the remainder of the way. The closest Toledo could get was 12 points at 4:46 following Larry Bastfields trey. However, a pair of free throws by Bramos and tip-in by Dierkers pushed the Miami advantage back up to 16 with 2:06 remaining.
Lo led Toledo with 13 points. Justin Anyijong also made it into double figures with 10.
The Rockets shot 47.4 percent from the field in the second half to give them a 35.1 percent overall mark. Miami, meanwhile, had a better first half (45.5 percent from the field) than second stanza (34.5 percent). Overall, the RedHawks made 20-of-52 (38.5 percent).
Weve got to work on scoring, because we got stagnant in the second half, Coles said.
Miami (14-7, 7-2 MAC) has now won four straight all against Western Division teams to remain a game behind MAC leader Buffalo. The Redhawks continue their trek North with a Tuesday game at Central Michigan before coming home to face Western Michigan in what could be an emotional Valentines Day contest as RedHawk fans show their love for the 1999 Miami team that reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. It is the only Miami team to reach the final 16 and will be recognized between the womens and mens games.
Toledo (4-19, 2-7 MAC) will try to end a five-game losing streak Tuesday when it hosts neighboring rival Bowling Green.
- Miami senior guard Eric Pollitz, bloodied by an inadvertent elbow in the first half against Toledo, returned to action during the second stanza. Eric is alright. Eric came back and played and did a good job, Coles said.
- Toledos Tyler Kent came into the game averaging 15.3 points per game. He got just five against the Redhawks.
- Michael Bramos continues to struggle with his outside shooting. He was 1-of-7 on three point attempts against Toledo and made 4-of-15 overall. Two were dunks. He did convert 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
- Senior guard Jonathan Amos, who had been suspended by Toledo coach Gene Cross, was back in action for the Rockets. He dished out six assists, but also had seven turnovers and