By Ben Molnar, For The The Miami Student
The Miami RedHawks men’s basketball team lost to the defending Sweet 16-qualifying Xavier Musketeers on Friday 81-72.
Though the RedHawks didn’t come away with a win, many predicted a blowout, but Miami held on. The ‘Hawks trailed by just five at halftime, stunning the NBA-like atmosphere of Xavier’s Cintas Center.
The Red and White used outside shooting to gain an edge on Xavier in the first half. Miami connected on 45 percent (5 for 11) of its three pointers in the first half, as opposed to Xavier’s 30 percent (3 for 10). Early three pointers by guards Dion Wade and Eric Washington gave the RedHawks early momentum. They rode that momentum into the half.
Miami’s downfall was on the boards and second-chance points. The Red and White were out rebounded 42-25 and trailed by 11 rebounds at the half.
“They dominated us on the boards, so that obviously posed a problem throughout the game,” said Miami head coach John Cooper.
Miami didn’t have much of a down low presence in the first half but made up for that with outside shooting and midrange jumpers.
But Miami’s shooting cooled off after halftime. Trailing by five point to start the second half, the Red and White were sluggish, hitting just 2-of-7 field goals, while Xavier made 5-of-6 to gain a steady 57-43 lead. Miami answered though, with an 11-0 run with outstanding defense, holding Xavier scoreless for 7:08 to get within three at 57-54. Two fierce LJ Livingston dunks and a three-pointer by guard Geovonie McKnight helped the run.
The RedHawks were in striking distance, trailing 61-60 with 6:57 remaining, before Xavier stretched its lead to 11 points at 71-60 with less than four minutes to play. Miami was scoreless for 4:20 before a pair of free throws by Eric Washington ended the drought. Miami was able to pull within eight points with 13 seconds remaining, but that was the closest the game would get
before the final whistle.
Washington paced Miami in scoring with 19 points and seven assists. McKnight and forward Jere Vucica scored 11 each. Nine different RedHawks scored in the contest.
The RedHawks face Kenyon at home 7 p.m. Tuesday.