The only thing colder than the Oxford air was the Miami RedHawks’ shooting.
That rung true for the first 33 minutes of Miami’s matchup with Toledo at Millett Hall on Tuesday night, as the RedHawks shot 37 percent from the field and 45 percent from the free throw line during that time period.
But, over the last seven minutes, they turned the heat on.
After falling behind 59-49 with 6:48 left in the contest, the RedHawks didn’t miss a field goal attempt for more than six minutes. They converted five straight to crawl back into the game and eventually tie the score at 61.
A pair of free throws from senior guard Darrian Ringo put Miami ahead 63-61 with 1:42 remaining. Those were the last points Ringo’s team scored.
Toledo made a 3-pointer and layup, respectively, on its last two possessions to take a 66-63 lead and force the RedHawks to call a timeout with 11 seconds to go.
Out of the huddle, sophomore forward Dalonte Brown missed a potential game-tying three, sealing a 66-63 Toledo victory.
“We just tried to screen in [Brown], but he didn’t come off clean,” Ringo said. “We just wanted to get a three.”
The loss snaps Miami’s (11-10, 3-5 Mid-American) three-game win streak.
“We’ve got to win this game,” head coach Jack Owens said. “We’ve got to find a way to win this game. We were in position, up two. Just got to get that rebound late and make some free throws during the stretch of the game to finish them off.”
Owens was referring to an offensive rebound grabbed by Toledo’s sophomore guard Marreon Jackson with 1:22 left. It led to a 3-pointer from senior forward Nate Navigato that gave the Rockets a 64-63 advantage.
Miami lost the total glass battle 42-28 just three days after out-rebounding Bowling Green — the nation’s top team for boards per game.
Despite making just two of their nine 2-point shots and four of their nine free throws, the RedHawks led for more than 16 minutes in the first half because of their high-volume 3-point shooting. They hit 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from deep before the break.
They held a 29-26 advantage before surrendering five points and falling behind 31-29 in the last 30 seconds before halftime.
An early second-half run boosted Toledo’s lead to a game-high 11 points halfway through the period.
With seven minutes left and the Rockets still in front by double-digits (59-49), Miami started its comeback.
It began with a mid-range jumper from sophomore guard Nike Sibande and didn’t end until Toledo regained a 64-63 lead with a minute remaining.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the comeback magic ran out.
The Rockets scored two consecutive buckets and Brown missed his 3-point attempt to ice the game.
Toledo (17-4, 5-3 MAC) moved to 2-0 versus Miami this season.
“I think it’s a lot of frustration,” Ringo said when asked his feelings about the loss. “We’re definitely down on ourselves, but we’ve just got to get better and come to practice ready to go.”
Ringo was tough on himself after the game, saying he needed to be better. But he was one of the biggest reasons for the RedHawks comeback, scoring all 10 of his points and turning the ball over just once in the second half.
“[Ringo] was good in the second half,” Owens said. “He’s a good player. When he’s cut in and doing when he’s supposed to do, we’re a load to deal with, as you see. He’s just got to keep it simple. It’s not all him, as to why we lost the game, by any means.”
Sibande dropped 18 points to lead the RedHawks in scoring, while Brown grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds.
Navigato recorded a game-high 20 points, while junior center Luke Knapke finished one board short of a double-double. He scored 13 points.
The RedHawks embark on a two-game road trip, starting at Eastern Michigan on Saturday. That contest is scheduled for noon and will air on ESPN+.