OXFORD, OH Miami scored the first five points in overtime and went on to hold off Bowling Green, 50-45 in a key Mid-American Conference game Thursday.
Michael Bramos (24) scored a game-high 23 points / Photo: Mike Smith
The RedHawks win, combined with Kent States 77-71 overtime win over Buffalo and Akrons 60-51 victory over Ohio, has created a four-way tie for first place in the MAC East with one regular-season game remaining for each team. BG, Miami, Buffalo and Akron are all 10-5. The loss denied Bowling Green the opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed for the MAC tournament.
When youre playing for championships, youre going to have some hard-fought games, BG head coach Louis Orr said. I give our guys credit. We didnt have our best offensive game, but we defended We fought to the end.
The 45 points scored by Bowling Green was a season low.
Me and Mike (Bramos), we couldnt let our team lose, said Miamis Tyler Diekers. It wasnt always pretty, but we found a way and got the job done.
The Falcons forced overtime on Scott Thomas 3-pointer from the top of the key with less than a second to play in regulation. Bramos two free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining had given Miami a three-point lead.
BG in-bounded the ball and Nate Miller pushed hard into the frontcourt. When Miamis Adam Fletcher came off of Thomas to double-team Miller, Miller found the freshman open for the shot.
He would love to take those shots every time. He didnt flinch, Miller said about Thomas. Hes got the confidence to take that shot.
It was a deep shot, you have to give him credit, Bramos said.
In the overtime, Miami scored the first five points as Antonio Ballard scored on an in-bounds play and Fletcher made up for his defensive lapse by converting a three-point play.
The Falcons could never regain the momentum after Miamis quick start.
It was a battle scoring points the whole night for both teams. So getting a five-point lead in overtime was big, Orr said.
The Falcons finally got on the board on Millers three-point play with 2:37 remaining, cutting Miamis lead to two. Bramos split a pair of free throws with 1:22 left to make it 46-43. But it took until 19.8 seconds remaining for BG to score again on Millers layup after a steal. Bramos then closed things out with four free throws in the final 17.4 seconds.
I thought we did pretty good job handling the overtime, Bramos said.
Miami held an 11-point lead, 34-23, with 10:55 remaining in regulation and it looked like it was over for Bowling Green.
The Falcons then switched out of their 2-3 zone, which has been the defensive staple of late, and the move paid off as Miami went 0-of-12 from the field and had a turnover in the span of 9:29 as BG was scoring 14 points.
With its defense playing well, BG also found some rhythm on offense as Miller scored five points in the 14-0 spurt, Otis Polk had two hoops, Darryl Clements hit a big 3-pointer and Joe Jakubowski capped things with a driving layup.
Clements three put BG up 35-34 with 4:50 left and Jakubowskis layup made it 37-34 with 2:57 remaining.
Bramos ended Miamis scoreless streak, making 2-of-3 free throws with 1:26 left. Dierkers scored off an in-bounds play with 31.2 seconds left to put the RedHawks up 38-37. Bramos then made two more free throws to set the stage for Thomas three.
The turning point for us was when they hit that three to go overtime. Our guys got real mad. I felt we would be OK in overtime, veteran Miami coach Charlie Coles said.
Bramos scored only three points in the first half, but finished with 23 points. Dierkers added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the RedHawks, now 17-11 overall.
We knew it was war, especially on the road, Miller said. We werent able to pull it out.
Miller was the only Falcon in double figures, scoring 12 points and finishing with a career-high 16 rebounds.
Thats what you ask for, is someone to play as hard as you. He (Miller) wanted that win and probably deserved that win just as much as we did, but we got it in the end, said Dierkers, who had the defensive assignment on Miller.
Bowling Green, now 17-12 overall, hosts Ohio Saturday with tipoff at 2 p.m. A BG win over the Bobcats would lock up one of the top four seeds in the MAC tournament for the Falcons.