It was stifling defense from the ‘Hawks and domination in the paint that made the difference for Miami, as they demolished the University of Detroit-Mercy 91-64 in a dream start to the women’s basketball season on Friday.
The RedHawks owned the glass, as they outrebounded the Titans 54-38, with a whopping differential of 22-9 for offensive boards. From those offensive rebounds, the RedHawks created 25 second-chance points, killing the Titans’ hopes of victory in Oxford.
Making her official head coaching debut, head coach Megan Duffy couldn’t have written the script better herself.
“You know, my dad has a saying that ‘You can’t win them all unless you win the first one,’” Duffy said. “So I told them, you know, enjoy this.”
The RedHawks certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, as a crowd full of local elementary school children on a field trip away from the classroom filled Millett Hall with shrieks of joy at every ‘Hawks basket.
In the first quarter, the nervous energy of both teams was obvious, and play was frantic. Nonetheless, both teams got hot from beyond the arc, with Miami connecting on four three-pointers, and UDM answering with three of their own. Tied 22-22 after the first quarter, the forecast for the rest of the game was a tense and tight offensive matchup.
Towards the beginning of the second quarter, Miami would go on one of its several offensive runs that would widen the gap between itself and the Titans. Spurred on by the return of Redshirt junior guard Baleigh Reid — who sat out last season with a knee injury — the RedHawks went on a 14-3 run, bringing the score to 42-31.
Reid finished with seven points and five rebounds on the day in only 11 minutes on the court. When healthy, Reid takes the team’s offense to the next level.
Detroit would close the gap to single digits at multiple instances in the game, but 11-0 and 8-0 runs in the third quarter ensured the safety of the RedHawks’ lead.
“I think they got that confidence of, like, ‘Man, we can score if we move the basketball,’” Duffy said. “And that’s what we talked about. It’s not necessarily the first shot, we’ve got to move the ball to get the best shot.”
Miami went on to increase their lead to 26 points in the fourth quarter, and never looked back.
The RedHawks’ defense forced 16 turnovers, while only giving the ball up six times themselves.
Sophomore forward Savannah Kluesner had a career day, with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Kluesner dominated the post, and showed off her footwork as she earned most of her points around the rim.
Last year’s Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year sophomore guard Lauren Dickerson, put up an impressive statline of 26 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Her ability to find shots for herself, and to find her teammates when she’s tightly guarded will be key to the RedHawks success this season.
Looking to continue their success, Miami travels to Purdue on Wednesday Nov. 15. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.