Julian Mavunga is fouled during the second half of Miami's 64-52 win over Bowling Green. Below, Erik Marshall looks for a teammate. Photos by Mike Smith.
OXFORD, OH. Strong second half play on its home court has been one of the few relatively consistent positives about the Miami RedHawks this season.
Miami got another such performance Saturday, and the result was a 64-52 win over Bowling Green at Millett Hall.
The RedHawks once again trailed at the break, albeit by just one point (20-19) in a defensive battle. But after shooting 30.4 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, Miami sank 12 of 18 (66.7 percent) in the final stanza.
The hosts made five straight field goals during a pivotal 13-0 run midway through the second half. Senior guard Kenny Hayes, who led the RedHawks with 17 points, started the run with a trey at 11:02.
I thought he showed pretty good leadership today, Coles said, adding that Hayes also turned in one of his best defensive games.
Antonio Ballard tallied five straight points before Nick Winbush, who had two blocked shots and a steal during the run, added a layup and trey to give Miami a 46-36 lead.
It feels good. Ive been in kind of a little slump, Winbush said.
The 6-7 forward, who hit double figures six times in the first nine games, totaled 13 points against BG for his first double-digit performance in the last nine games. He connected on 5-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-4 trey attempts.
Miami coach Charlie Coles welcomed Winbushs success. I told Nick its my responsibility to get him more shots; its his responsibility to start making those shots, Coles said.
A layup by Ballard gave Miami a 12-point lead with 5:30 remaining, but the Falcons recently had come from behind with late runs to defeat Kent State (on the road) and Ohio.
Coach Louis Orrs team did generate several turnovers with pressure and narrowed the deficit to seven points on an Otis Polk dunk with 3:50 remaining. That, however, was as close as the visitors could get. Forced to foul, BG repeatedly sent Miami players to the line, and the RedHawks converted 10 of 13 down the stretch to keep the Falcons at a distance.
Sophomore forward Julian Mavunga made four free throws during final minutes while going 6-for-6 from the line on the way to his fifth double-double of the season. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
He wasnt as good (as usual) offensively, but he had 11 rebounds, said Coles, who noted Mavunga recently has been showing more signs of maturity in his game.
As of late, the maturity factor might be applied to the RedHawks in general. Were playing harder and working together, Coles said. At the beginning of the year, we werent saying a word to each other out there.
With the win, Miami (6-12) raised its MAC record to 3-2, pushing it into a four-way tie for first place in the MAC East. Bowling Green, meanwhile, fell to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the MAC East.
Dee Brown led the Falcons with 17 points against Miami. He made 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Scott Thomas was the only other Falcon in double figures. He had 10 points while hitting 3-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-6 trey attempts.
Miamis sizzling second-half performance helped the RedHawks convert 46.3 percent from the field over 40 minutes. They made 7-of-14 from behind the three-point line.
The RedHawks entered Saturdays contest averaging 38.6 percent from the field and 34.2 percent on treys. We havent been shooting the ball very well, said Coles, who explained that his teams offense began to thrive in the second half after a few adjustments.
We played better in the first half (than we had been) , (but) we had to change our alignment in the second half to do what we needed to do, Coles said.
We got it rolling, and I thought we played really good defense, Winbush said.
Miami, which hasnt won a true road game this season, gets another shot at that challenge Tuesday when it travels to Muncie for a meeting with the Ball State Cardinals.
We play well at home, but we just cant seem to get it on the road, Mavunga said. We just have to continue to work hard and persevere . Were just going to have to figure it out. Thats what this season has been about - figuring things out.
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