Zach Maciaszek, For The Miami Student

Miami sophomore guard Willie Moore guards a Bowling Green guard during Miami’s 55-52 victory over Bowling Green Feb. 23. A win over Ohio University Saturday would give Miami a home game in the MAC tournament. (Ben Taylor | The Miami Student)

A dominant first half allowed the Miami University men’s basketball team (12-16, 8-9 MAC) to cruise past Kent State University (16-14, 7-10 MAC) 73-61.

Senior forward Will Felder led all players in scoring with a career-high tying 26 points. He narrowly missed out on a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds.

Head coach John Cooper said the RedHawks’ strong effort out of the gate keyed them to their victory.

“I thought we came out with unbelievable effort and energy in the first half,” Cooper said. “We put ourselves in a position to be very successful.”

The RedHawks were scorching from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, burying all seven of their attempts on their way to compiling a 45-25 lead heading into the locker room. Junior guard Will Sullivan connected from deep three times, while sophomore guard Willie Moore hit two treys.

Moore finished with 14 points, six boards and three steals on the night. Sullivan scored 13 points and collected four rebounds.

MU shot a fiery 63 percent from the field in the opening period, amassing 17 field goals on 12 assists. The ‘Hawks held the Golden Flashes to 38.5 percent shooting and swiped seven steals.

The ‘Hawks started the second half just as strongly as the first, embarking on a 10-3 run to capture their largest lead of the game, 57-33 with 13:48 remaining.

The Flashes refused to retreat quietly into the night, however, as they used an 18-2 run to pull back within striking distance of Miami 59-51 with 7:58 left on the clock. It was the closest that Kent would get to the ‘Hawks, as Miami went on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 15 and never looked back.

Junior guard Devareaux Manley led the Flashes in scoring with 12 points on 3-8 shooting.

Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said the Flashes did not play with the sense of urgency that Miami brought to the court Tuesday.

“We didn’t match the intensity,” Senderoff said. “That’s why we lost.”

Felder sunk 10-18 field goals and sunk six of seven free throws. The 10 field goals tied his RedHawk career-high. It was his fifth 20-point game of the season, seventh overall for his career.

“I thought Will Felder was unbelievable,” Cooper said. “It was his last conference road game and he really led us with his energy on the offensive end.”

The Red and White will finish their regular season at home when they host rival Ohio University in the “Battle of the Bricks” at noon Saturday.

The Bobcats defeated the RedHawks 82-75 when these two teams matched up Feb. 8 in Athens. OU’s senior guard Nick Kellogg scored 27 points in that affair.

Felder and senior forward Bill Edwards scored 19 points apiece in the losing effort, while freshman guard Jayrd Eustace chipped in with 14 points.