RedHawks bounce back while BSU continues slide Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   
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OXFORD, OH Coming off a heartbreaking week, the Miami RedHawks found a way to turn the page Tuesday in Millett Hall as they erased a 14-point first half deficit to record an 89-75 win over visiting Ball State.

Four players reached double figures for the RedHawks, who posted a season-high for regulation 40-minute games. The 89-point total also was 25 points above Miamis season average of 64 ppg. and came against a Ball State team ranked No. 1 (MAC) in scoring defense.

Forward Julian Mavunga put together one of his best all-around games in a RedHawks uniform, scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He also had seven assists.

When Julian plays to his ability, I think he shows all of us something new, Miami head coach Charlie Coles said. Tonight, he rebounded and played very smart basketball.

Freshman Josh Sewell also posted a career-high with 20 points, nearly equaling his 22 total points coming into Tuesdays contest. His production was one of the most positive signs in a very positive night for the mentally and physically rebounding RedHawks.

We had a tough week last week, said Miami head coach Charlie Coles, alluding to the injury losses of forward Antonio Ballard and Quinten Rollins Thursday at Central Michigan, as well as an overtime home loss to Western Michigan Saturday.

As Tuesdays game against BSU unfolded, another Miami home loss appeared to be a distinct possibility. Jauwon Scaife was on fire early, hitting three treys in a span of 1:50 while the Cardinals were building up an 11-4 lead.

Eight consecutive Scaife points (six on a pair of treys) later in the period put Ball State ahead 32-18 with 7:16 remaining. Slowly, however, the RedHawks started to turn things around. They outscored BSU 21-14 heading into intermission and trailed by seven, 46-39, at the break.

Ball State connected on 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) from the field, including 7-of-10 (70 percent) from behind the arc during the opening 20 minutes. But the Cardinals shooting and fortunes changed dramatically after the break. BSU dropped to 28.6 percent from the field (10-0f-35) and made just 1-of-12 trey attempts in the second half.  Sewell was part of the reason, as he helped cool off the previously hot-shooting Scaife.

First and foremost, I just wanted to be consistent in the second half, Sewell said. I asked coach if I could guard Jauwan [Scaife], and he said, Yes. Defense is one thing I really take pride in.

Josh Sewell had the 20 points, but I also thought he was our best perimeter defender tonight, [defending Scaife in the second half and limiting him to four points], Mavunga said. Coach Coles said they were shooting 62 percent from the field (in the first half), so we knew it had to start with defense; we had to clamp down.

After yielding 46 prior to intermission, MU limited the Cardinals to 10 field goals and 26 points over the final 20 minutes. Miami, meanwhile, nearly equaled the visitors field goals on treys alone.

The RedHawks sank 11-of-19 threes in the second period on the way to a school record 16. The previous record of 15 was set against Kentucky Nov. 16, 2009. Forward Nick Winbush accounted for 10 of the trifectas against Kentucky, and although he had just four against the Cardinals, he scored 14 of his 16 points during Miamis big second half run. The senior also had three of Miamis nine blocked shots, a team mark that ties for fifth place in the school record books.

Ball State (13-8, 5-3 MAC) owned a nine-point advantage after Chris Bonds layup at 16:04. Miami then outscored the Cardinals 20-9 to take a 65-63 lead. Sewell, who went 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, started the run with a trey at 15:34. Nick Winbushs three at 9:48 put MU in front.

Ball State, which has now lost four in a row (including three MAC games) after reeling off seven straight wins, fell back by seven before making a final run. Bonds jumper at 6:49 narrowed the deficit to 72-70.

A Winbush steal and Mavunga assist, however, set up Sewell for a three-pointer and Miami outscored BSU 17-5 down the stretch to put the game away.

It was a tale of two halves. [The second half] might have been the best half weve played all year, Coles said. Weve put together some [good] halves. I dont know that weve put together a total game yet, but I am optimistic that one of these days we will.

He continued, The second half was just marvelous. I dont think Ive ever been prouder of our guys. There was no great strategy. They did that on their own. I think the thing that frustrates me the most is when we dont play up to our ability, because I think weve got some good players.

Considering the loss Ballard (for the season) and Rollins (indefinitely), the RedHawks need all the good players they can muster, and Sewells performance was both surprising and encouraging.

Sewells 20 points was probably most surprising because its been a frustrating year for Josh, Coles said. I wanted to get him in there early. That was no accident. When he hit his first shot, I thought, OK, he scored two, thats a good night. Little did I know it would be a 20-spot he would put up.

Joining Sewell in double figures for Miami (10-12, 5-3 MAC) were Mavunga (27), Winbush (16) and Allen Roberts (13).

Scaife paced BSU with 22. Bond had 14 and Randy Davis added 10 for the Cardinals, who have several challenging contests ahead of them as they try to break their current four-game skid. Buffalo comes to Muncie for a 2 p.m. game Saturday. The following week features road games at Bowling Green (Wed., 7 p.m.) and Akron (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).

Miami continues the MAC West opponent portion of its schedule Saturday at Eastern Michigan. After a home tilt with NIU Wednesday, Nov. 9 (7 p.m.), the RedHawks travel to Toledo (Saturday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.).

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