Jack Owens had his back turned and didn’t see it coming.
The Miami men’s basketball head coach walked into the RedHawks’ locker room after his team defeated Bowling Green 82-69 at the Stroh Center on Tuesday night, only to be on the receiving end of an unexpected ice water bath from sophomore forward Dalonte Brown.
Owens, Brown and co. had a good reason to celebrate.
For the second time in a month, Miami locked up the Falcons’ offense, holding it to under 40 percent shooting from the field. And for the second time in a month, the RedHawks killed Bowling Green’s momentum.
On Jan. 26, the Falcons came to Oxford on a 10-game win streak and sitting in first in the Mid-American Conference. They left Millett Hall in second place and victims of their first loss since early December.
But, Bowling Green (19-9, 11-4 MAC) rebounded nicely, going 5-2 between the late Jan. matchup and Tuesday night. It remained second in the league standings.
The Falcons will keep second place after Tuesday’s defeat, but they have now lost two straight and are limping to the season’s finish line rather than soaring through it like their early MAC schedule.
While, last time, Miami (15-13, 7-8 MAC) won with defense, this time, it won with solid performances on both sides of the court.
The RedHawks’ offense shot 48.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range to record its highest scoring output in over two and a half months. The last time it reached 80 points was Dec. 8 in an 85-79 home victory over Purdue Fort Wayne.
Led by 20 points from sophomore guard Nike Sibande, four MU scorers totaled double figures in scoring. The others: Brown (15 points), freshman guard Mekhi Lairy (12) and sophomore guard Jalen Adaway (11).
Ball movement played a big part in Miami’s offensive efficiency, as the RedHawks racked up 17 assists. They were paced in that category by senior guard Darrian Ringo, who dished out nine assists and turned the ball over only three times. As a team, the ’Hawks gave the ball away 12 times and forced 11 BG turnovers.
The Falcons held the lead for almost nine minutes in the first half, compared to just under eight minutes of control for Miami.
Down 29-23 with seven minutes left in the period, the RedHawks made their run. They ended the half with an 18-6 stretch and went from behind by six to ahead by nine in a six-minute span.
Right before intermission, Bowling Green cut its deficit to 41-35 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Dylan Frye.
The Falcons willed themselves back into the game and pulled within one point (52-51) on a triple by redshirt sophomore guard Justin Turner, five and a half minutes into the second.
Turner, who entered the contest as the third-leading scorer in the MAC, finished the game with 14 points. He was capped several points under his season average of 18 in both games against Miami. He tied senior forward Demajeo Wiggins for the team lead in scoring with 14 points on Tuesday.
After reducing the RedHawks’ lead to one, Bowling Green ran out of energy. It surrendered a 18-5 Miami run that pushed the score to 70-57.
From there, the RedHawks hit the cruise control button and glided to an 82-69 win. Their advantage never dipped below 11 points in the final seven minutes.
Miami edged the Falcons in the glass battle 37-36.
Sibande and Adaway each had six boards to lead the RedHawks, while Wiggins grabbed a BG team-high 11 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Following a two-game road stint, Miami returns to home to Millett Hall on Friday. The RedHawks will host the No. 21 Buffalo Bulls at 8 p.m. in a game that will air nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Buffalo will be the first ranked opponent to visit Oxford since 2001.