Emily Simanskis, The Miami Student
Wednesday night, Miami University’s men’s basketball team dug deep to overcome a second half 15-point deficit to eventually beat Grambling State University 78-76 in overtime.
Freshmen twin brothers Michael and Marcus Weathers scored 44 of the team’s 78 points—Marcus had a double-double with 18 total points and 12 rebounds, Michael had 26 points and both saw almost 40 minutes of play.
Grambling State’s junior forward Averyl Ugba also had a double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Miami improves to 4-3 overall and 4-2 at home. GSU is now 3-5 with all of its games played on the road.
The 7 p.m. tipoff was won by the Tigers, though the early minutes of play saw no dominance from either side. The ‘Hawks and Tigers exchanged baskets to keep the game close until seven minutes into the half.
An MU scoring drought was caused by scrambling for ball possession and too many turnovers, and it didn’t take GSU long to capitalize.
“I felt like our faults came from early turnovers,” Marcus Weathers said. “They were very athletic, so they were speeding us up and getting us out of our comfort zone. We didn’t take our time running our offense which was one of our faults. Also, matching up on the defensive end was another one. With either a bucket or a miss we didn’t know who we had, so we had to fix those things during halftime.”
Three minutes later, GSU began to steadily increase their lead with numerous three-pointers and few missed shots. In comparison, Miami’s regular misses and lacking defense could only attempt to counter the Tigers’ momentum.
The first half ended with the RedHawks down 38-26 with 13 turnovers.
“We absolutely stunk it up in the first half—I’ll give credit to Grambling, I thought Shawn did a terrific job with their game plan,” head coach John Cooper said of GSU’s coach. “They were more aggressive, they got all the 50-50 balls, they took balls from us, they did everything they wanted to do. We were just not very good and, at times, it can be quite frustrating because we have some pups going through this and they just have no clue, at times, what’s going on and how to settle down and figure things out.”
The second half began with a change in the RedHawks’ mentality, but not an immediate change in momentum. A gradual shift occurred with the help of Marcus Weather’s rebound control and Miami managed to cut GSU’s lead to four within the first four minutes of play.
GSU answered, continuing to extend its lead until it reached 15 with nine minutes left in the game. The RedHawks would finally hit their stride and settle down to go on an 18-3 run.
The Weathers brothers and junior guard Abdoulaye Harouna sunk free throws and layups to chip away at GSU’s lead. Redshirt senior guard Jake Bischoff played a crucial five minutes and made two free throws to aid the comeback.
The Tigers’ vocal bench quieted as the final minutes ticked down but the RedHawk fans volume only increased.
Miami drew a charge in the defensive end and the clocked ticked to :22 with the RedHawks still down two. What started out as a messy play thankfully resulted in Michael Weathers bodying his way through traffic to score a layup and tie the game.
“One of the things when facing pressure is, first of all, you’ve got to face it and you’ve got to relax and you’ve got to make simple plays—that’s how you handle pressure,” Cooper said. “You’ve just got to settle down because all pressure wants you to do is speed up and it sped us up.”
The five-minute overtime began with the fans on their feet and the team reenergized. Harouna hit a three-pointer to start, Michael Weathers hit two free throws, and the RedHawks never trailed for the rest of the game.
GSU came within one with a minute left to play, but Marcus Weathers came up with a monstrous dunk to push Miami’s lead to three. Harouna had the fans cheering with a layup then GSU’s senior guard Ervin Mitchell’s deep three-pointer quieted the crowd.
Ultimately, the Tigers’ failed attempt at a buzzer beater ended the game.
Miami’s turnovers were significantly less in the second half of the game and almost nonexistent in overtime, but the first half’s mistakes cannot be overlooked. The lack of scoring distribution along the roster is also an issue that Miami looks to fix going forward—Cooper is looking for more from his junior class.
“I feel like crap right now but we won the game. The lesson is for me, you know what? We could have lost the game and I’d feel even worse,” Cooper said. “I’ll take the win, I’ll take these guys growing. Give ‘em credit—our guys found a way to win, they did.”
The RedHawks’ next test is on the road against Fort Wayne on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.