Kenny Hayes drives the lane against Toledo. Below, Antonio Ballard looks for shooting room. Bottom right, Dustin Anyijong puts up a shot. Photos by Mike Smith
OXFORD, OH - The Miami RedHawks had something of an identity crisis Wednesday, but the hosts found themselves in the second half to post a 55-47 win over Toledo at Millett Hall.
The identity issue stemmed from MU's previous game, when the RedHawks erupted for 44 first half points in a win over Northern Illinois. Miami came out firing again Wednesday, but this time the shots weren't falling. The result was a 21-18 deficit against a determined UT squad that remains on a quest for its first MAC win of the season and first victory since Dec. 10 against IPFW.
The young Rockets entered Wednesday's matchup 3-21 overall and 0-10 in league play but have shown considerable improvement recently and took Ohio into overtime before falling 65-58 Feb. 4.
Miami, on the other hand, was trying to extend a four-game winning streak that included road wins last week at Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
After launching 19 3-pointers (and hitting 12) at the latter stop, MU appeared eager to continue the long ball against Toledo. But after making 2 of 11 treys during the first period, the RedHawks had to regroup.
"Coach said we took way too many threes (and) that we need to get the ball inside," senior point guard Kenny Hayes said. "We were (thinking) 'I'm open, so I'm going to take it.'"
Miami head coach Charlie Coles called it "human nature" for his team to carry over a pace that had worked for them a few days earlier. However, the Rockets were winning early Wednesday with a methodical dribble-penetration game while the RedHawks were struggling at an uptempo pace.
"In the first half, it was kind of like a boring game. They were slowing us down. Usually, we're the team that is slowing the other team down," Hayes said.
"They love to get in the lane," he continued. (Dustin) "Anyijong got hot early because they were getting in the lane, and we had to help. They were kicking it out and. ... he's a tall shooter, and he hit some key shots for them in the first half."
Anyijong, who entered the game with an 8.4 ppg (5 rpg) average, hit 5 of 8 shots, including three treys, before halftime. As a team, UT connected on 39.1 percent of its shots from the field and 37.5 percent from behind the arc.
Miami's 18.2 percent on treys contributed to a 32 percent overall field goal percentage prior to intermission, but the RedHawks would more double that (68.8 percent) in the second half as they turned to the inside game. Miami shot only three treys over the final 20 minutes, making one.
While the RedHawks found a cure for their ailing offense, they also picked up their defense on Anyijong. The 6-6, 205-pound junior netted just three points in the second half - all from the free throw line.
Miami forged the game's first tie (23-all) at 16:35 on a jumper by Hayes. A layup and free throw by sophomore Julian Mavunga tied the game for a third time (32-all) at 12:19 and MU took the lead for good on a jumper in the lane by Adam Fletcher at 10:35.
"We were a different team in the second half," Mavunga said. " We rebounded better. We did a lot of things better than we did in the first half."
Miami pushed the lead to seven twice before UT battled to within two points on a Larry Bastfield layup at 5:08. But when Haddix missed a shot at the other end, Mavunga grabbed the rebound and drained two free throws eight seconds later.
The lead grew to seven points, but Toledo refused to quit and made it a three-point game at 48-45 on Barnett's layup with 2:00 remaining.
Winbush quickly reponded with Miami's only trey of the second half and the RedHawks used four free throws down the stretch to again thrwart the Rockets.
The hosts outscored Toledo 18-12 in the paint and 10-2 off turnovers in the second half.
Joining Hayes (14) in double figures for Miami were Antonio Ballard (13 points, 7 rebounds), Mavunga (12) and Winbush (10).
Anyijong (16) and Bastfield were the only double figure scorers for UT.
Miami puts its five-game win skein on the line Sunday (2 p.m.) when it visits Bowling Green at Anderson Arena. Toledo also draws a tough assignment as the Rockets travel to Mount Pleasant to battle Central Michigan (4:30 p.m.).
After watching a first-half lead get washed away by a series of careless turnovers, Bowling Greens men were a completely different team in the second half against Northern Illinois Wednesday night in… Read more