Emily Simanskis, The Miami Student
The Miami University men’s basketball team made a valiant comeback effort in the second half Tuesday night against Wright State University, but ultimately lost 89-87.
The RedHawks erased a 21-point deficit in the second half and even maintained a short two-point lead with the help of double-digit point totals from redshirt sophomore guard Jake Wright, freshman guard Michael Weathers and junior forward Rod Mills.
MU falls to an even 1-1 on the season while Wright State earns its second win to improve to 2-0.
“We didn’t come out and do what we do best,” junior guard Abdoulaye Harouna said. “Going into the second half, after we went to the locker room, we realized that we didn’t play the way we play. That’s why we were down—we didn’t give enough energy.”
The game was close from the start and neither team could sustain more than a five-point lead until half way through the half. Then, Wright State took the lead and built upon it with consistent baskets and occasional three pointers. Miami would answer with several baskets but couldn’t match WSU’s offense.
The first half ended with WSU leading 53-32 with Miami only capitalizing on 14 of its 31 shots, three of nine three-point attempts and one of three free throws. The Raiders sunk 18 of their 34 tries, nine of 16 three-pointers and eight of 11 free throws.
A very different RedHawk team hit the court at the start of the second half—the Raiders didn’t score for the first seven minutes of play as Mills and Wright made several free throws and baskets to reduce the deficit to single digits.
Weathers and junior guard Zach McCormick also significantly helped the comeback, leading the RedHawks to take the lead with eight minutes left.
The two teams battled until the final buzzer, but a jumper and free throw by junior guard Mark Alstork put WSU up by two points and Miami couldn’t recover in the 10 seconds remaining.
“The second half, we come in and gave our best, we did what we were supposed to do and were right back in the game,” Harouna said. “We made a few mistakes, that’s why we lost by two points.”
The RedHawks who significantly contributed to the comeback saw many minutes and plenty of points, all while cutting down on turnovers and improving free throws—something head coach John Cooper stressed after Miami’s first game.
Wright played 36 minutes, tallied 17 points and was 5-for-8 on three point attempts. Mills also had 17 points but played 10 minutes less and was 4-for-6 from the free throw line. Weathers played for 22 minutes and had 14 points while only turning the ball over twice compared to his seven in the first game. McCormick had 12 points in 23 minutes.
Wright State’s Alstork scored 29 points and was 15-for-20 on free throw attempts. Senior forward Steven Davis chipped in 16 total points.
Miami looks to improve its record at home this weekend in the Tarkett Sports Classic. The ‘Hawks play Delaware (2-1) 7 p.m. Friday, Austin Peay (1-1) 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Northern Kentucky (1-1) 2 p.m. Sunday. When the visiting teams are not playing Miami, they will play each other in a neutral site game.
This weekend poses a special challenge for the team—this is the only time it will play in a tournament until potentially the Mid-American Conference tournament in March.
“I think that’s something that’s important particularly for us, for playing in the MAC, you’ve got to be able to play the game, execute and yet still have some fatigue and somehow come back and do it all over again,” Cooper said. “So, I think this is a good test, it’s a good barometer for our team—our team is young—this will be good for them.”
Last year, Miami went 2-1 in the tournament—winning the first and last game but dropping the second.
“I think we want to just get those three wins,” Harouna said.