After two tough losses to open the Mid-American Conference (MAC) season, the Miami University (5-10, 1-2 MAC) men’s basketball team was able to hold off the University of Buffalo (8-6, 1-2 MAC) 52-51 Saturday night in Oxford, Ohio. The victory marked Miami’s first MAC win of the season.
“They played really well and I hope they keep this going,” Head Coach Charlie Coles said. “I didn’t think this game was going to be pretty at all.”
Miami was led by the starting backcourt of freshman guard Brian Sullivan, who had 17 points to lead all scorers and shot 5-for-9 from three-point range, and sophomore guard Quinten Rollins, who had 13 points and led the team with four assists.
“[The] last couple games, we were right there at the end, and really the only thing we didn’t do was win,” Sullivan said. “It helps us gain confidence going forward.”
Similar to the way the last two matchups turned out, this game was back and forth throughout. In this first half, neither team held a lead larger than three points and the teams were tied seven times.
With the RedHawks only up by one late in the second half, sophomore forward Jon Harris knocked down a big three-pointer to increase Miami’s lead to 51-47 with 1:12 remaining. Miami was able to hold on after, when senior forward Julian Mavunga hit a free throw to win the game 52-51.
Miami was able to get through this game without a strong performance from Mavunga, who had a season-low eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.
“Every team’s main goal is to stop Julian; we’re going to see that all year,” Sullivan said.
For the first time in their careers, Sullivan and Rollins played the entire game, in large part due to the absence of sophomore guard Josh Sewell, who was unavailable for undisclosed reasons. Even though Sullivan’s natural position is point guard, Rollins and he played very well together to spark the RedHawks.
“In practice, we always go against each other, but he can play the two [guard] as well as the point,” Rollins said. “I find him when he’s open and he knocks it down.”
The win snaps a three game losing streak for the Red and White, and improved Miami’s home record to 4-3 this season.
Miami will look to build off this victory Wednesday night against Bowling Green State University. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Millett Hall.