Miami men’s basketball fell 66-62 to Mid-American Conference opponent Kent State at home on Saturday afternoon despite a last minute comeback. An early Kent State lead could not be overcome, as the RedHawks continue to struggle with countering their opponent’s offense.
Miami falls to 9-14 overall, 2-8 in the MAC and 9-5 at home. Kent State’s record is now 13-10 overall, 5-5 in the MAC and 4-4 on the road.
“The first half we didn’t have enough energy and we came out lackadaisical, like all the other games,” freshman guard Michael Weathers said. “We fired each other up in the locker room and told each other that if we want to stop losing then we have to change something. We tried to change everything and it came up short.”
The Kent State Flashes roared out to a 10-2 lead within the first three minutes but the next three were relatively quiet with only two baskets — both coming from Miami.
Miami expected a strong showing from Kent State’s offense but managed to answer the Flashes’ baskets with their own. The RedHawks fought to keep their deficit below 10 but halfway through the first half, they found themselves down 23-10.
The remainder of the half found Miami matching Kent State’s buckets. Two sunk free throws from Michael Weathers and a good three-pointer from redshirt sophomore Jake Wright brought the deficit down to under 10 with five minutes left in the half.
Kent State solidified their lead in the final minutes, though there was no scoring for the last minute and change. The half ended with the RedHawks down 37-26.
“We tried to take advantage in the second half — we ran even more actions to try and get the ball inside and force them to have to defend,” head coach John Cooper said. “You look at the beginning of the game and in many ways we had to dig out from a hole.”
The second half opened with back and forth play, as neither team could get consistent consecutive baskets. Miami finally found some offensive production paired with solid defense with an 8-0 run that put the score at 52-45 with 10 minutes left in the game.
KSU broke the run with a three from freshman guard Mitch Peterson but it would be the last time they would have a double-digit lead. A dunk from junior guard Abdoulaye Harouna put the RedHawks within eight with eight minutes left.
Miami hit their stride and a layup from junior forward Logan McLane brought the RedHawks within one with four minutes left. The clock ticked down and with two minutes left, the game was tied at 59. The RedHawks found their first lead of the game at 1:39 when a free throw from Harouna put the ‘Hawks up by one.
Five points from the Flashes and two sunk free throws from Michael Weathers brought Miami within two, but two free throws in the final seconds from KSU sealed the deal at 66-62.
“As you look at the totality of the game, in many ways, down the stretch there were too many mistakes by us — key positions, whether it be turnovers, lack of execution or giving up a drive to the middle for a layup against them late in the game,” Cooper said. “I thought our guys did a good job executing late in the set, late in the game. They did do that right.”
McLane ended with 13 points and career high 12 rebounds for a double-double. Wright and Michael Weathers had 14 points each, where Kent State’s senior forward Jimmy Hall led their team with an astounding 31 points.
Once again, Miami outscored their opponent in the second half (36-29) but didn’t start on time to avoid an early deficit. Kent State is known for having a high points per game average and Miami kept their stellar offense at bay. A high free throw percentage (81.8 percent) also managed to keep the ‘Hawks close.
“We felt a little gassed, but in practice we do a lot of conditioning so we’re used to that type of moment when it comes to late game play,” Michael Weathers said. “We didn’t pull through and execute our plays which cost us the win.”
The ‘Hawks look to break their three game losing streak against Western Michigan tonight at 7 p.m. at Millett Hall. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.