The Miami men’s basketball team dropped its third straight game after a comeback attempt fell one point short in Tuesday’s 58-57 loss to Eastern Michigan.
The RedHawks (13-13, 6-7 MAC) opened the game with a promising 5-0 run before their offensive attack went cold, allowing the Eagles (15-11, 6-7 MAC) to rattle off 10 unanswered points of their own.
Senior forward Rod Mills scored back-to-back buckets to make it 10-9, but Miami’s offensive struggles returned. The ‘Hawks went over 11 minutes without scoring a field goal, surrendering an 18-2 stretch in the process.
Two layups and a three pointer started to break Miami out of its slump, but Eastern took a 33-15 lead into halftime.
Redshirt junior forward Elijah Minnie spearheaded the Eagles’ attack, making four threes and scoring 15 points before the intermission. Junior forward James Thompson IV scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the half.
After struggling from deep in the first, the RedHawks came out firing in the second half. Redshirt junior Jake Wright canned a three to start the half and kick off a 16-3 run to pull the Red and White within two, 36-34, with 14 minutes left in regulation.
Another elongated Miami shooting drought over the next five minutes allowed Eastern Michigan to push its lead back to double-digits at 47-36.
Wright came alive again, torching the Eagles with three consecutive treys en route to a personal 9-2 run. His efforts put the RedHawks down by only four with over six minutes remaining.
With Miami trailing 54-46 at the 4:10 mark, sophomore forward Bam Bowman converted an old-fashioned three-point play before adding two more free throws with just over two and a half minutes left. Wright’s seventh three of the game moved the RedHawks to within one.
The two teams traded baskets with under a minute remaining, before Eastern Michigan missed the front end of a one-and-one at the line, giving Miami one last chance.
With Miami trying to run an out-of-bounds play, senior guard Tim Bond stole the inbounds pass and secured a 58-57 win for Eastern Michigan.
The RedHawks shot over 54 percent from the field in the second half — including 7-of-11 on three point attempts — but it wasn’t enough to counteract their first-half woes.
Minnie finished with a game-high 24 points, while Thompson IV collected a game-high 14 rebounds on his way to a double-double.
Miami possessed only two scorers in double-digits: Wright (21) and Bowman (11). Bowman led the ‘Hawks in rebounding with eight.
Prior to this outburst, Wright hadn’t reached double-digit points since he scored 12 at Depaul on Dec. 21. He had also been held scoreless in five of his last eight games.
MU junior guard Darrian Ringo played 38 of the game’s 40 minutes, but wasn’t able to crack the scoring column. He tallied a game-high eight assists, but turned the ball over six times.
The loss drops the ‘Hawks below .500 in conference play. The current losing stretch is also the first time Miami’s lost three straight games since November.
The RedHawks will look to turn things around this Saturday Feb. 17, when they travel to Ohio University. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. tip-off and will air on ESPN3.