The Miami University men’s basketball team (4-10, 0-2 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) lost their third game in a row at Kent State University (10-4, 1-1 MAC) Wednesday 71-67 in a game that featured 15 lead changes.
The Red and White were led by a strong performance from their frontcourt. Sophomore center Drew McGhee led the RedHawks in scoring with a career high 16 points and was helped by senior forward Julian Mavunga who contributed 14 points and also led the RedHawks with six rebounds and four assists.
“It wasn’t really a plan to get me involved [in the offense],” McGhee said. “We knew they would focus on Julian. That gave me great opportunities to score and we took advantage of it.”
The ‘Hawks got off to a hot start early, shooting as high as 72 percent at one point in the first half. Sophomore forward Jon Harris made four trifectas in the first half to contribute to Miami’s early 30-19 lead with 6:09 to play in the first half. Harris finished with 12 points.
However, Miami began to turn the ball over near the end of the half and allowed Kent to go on an 8-0 run to close out the half. The Red and White regrouped in the second half, opening up a nine-point lead with 11:50 to play after freshman guard Brian Sullivan, making his first career start, hit two free throws to put the ‘Hawks up 57-48.
The Golden Flashes, led by 2010 MAC Player of the Year Justin Greene, began to nip away at the RedHawks’ lead with a series of “hustle plays” that Head Coach Charlie Coles talked about after the game.
“I can pick out three hustle plays that we didn’t make,” Coles said. “If we want to win these games, we have to take them. Kent willed themselves to a victory.”
The Red and White held the Golden Flashes to 35 percent shooting from the floor in the second half, but failed to keep them off the foul line as Kent State finished 19-25 from the charity stripe. Greene scored a bucket with 18 seconds remaining to put Kent up 69-67 after two consecutive missed three pointers from the RedHawks.
Miami turned the ball over on the next possession, and two more free throws from junior guard Randal Holt capped a 13-2 run by Kent to end the game.
“It’s there for us,” Coles said. “We competed, but we didn’t go all the way with it. We’ve got to keep working before Buffalo next week. I want to challenge the guys to see what they can do.”
The RedHawks will come home looking to win their first MAC win this weekend against the University at Buffalo.
Coles had one message to Miami students with regards to the game this weekend at Millett Hall. “[Miami] did everything to win this game except win it,” Coles said. “Please come out this weekend and support our boys.”
Tip off is set for 6 p.m. Saturday. Fans can listen to the game on Miami’s IMG Sports Network.