Poor shooting and inconsistent defense once again doomed the Miami University men’s basketball team in an 82-62 Mid-American Conference (MAC) loss to Ball State University Saturday afternoon. The loss is the third consecutive defeat for the RedHawks, as they now stand at 7-11 (2-4 MAC).
Redshirt junior forward Will Felder led Miami for a third straight game with 14 points, and junior guard Quinten Rollins scored a career high 12 points. It wasn’t enough to stabilize a 44 percent shooting effort from the ‘Hawks, including 28 percent from deep on 6-21 shooting. This was the 10th game this season the RedHawks shot below 30 percent from three.
“In many ways, I feel like we have hit a wall, just because I don’t see the life,” Head Coach John Cooper said. “I feel like we have more life on the road, which is interesting.”
Miami kept things interesting for most of the game, playing back-and- forth basketball with the Cardinals with seven ties and 12 lead changes.
The ‘Hawks found balance early, shooting well inside and from long range, staying within four points for the majority of the first half. Ball State was able to take a five-point advantage into the half, 34-29.
The Miami fell into its recent trend of falling apart late. The Cardinals took their 48 percent effort from the field in the first half and followed it up with a blistering 68 percent. After the RedHawks pulled even at 36, a quick 10-3 Ball State run put them ahead 46-39 with about 14 minutes to play.
Miami closed the deficit to 53-50, but got no closer. After the Cardinals recorded a 17-4 run, Miami’s morale appeared nonexistent, as it committed a slew of turnovers and cheap fouls to close the contest.
“I think I understand what needs to take place and that it doesn’t happen overnight,” Cooper said. “Having said that, is it frustrating? Absolutely. Is it disappointing when a team makes a run on you on your wood and you’re not able to muster up the effort, the competitive desire, to combat that run? Absolutely.”
Ball State finished shooting 57 percent for the game, and out rebounding the RedHawks by 20, 37-17.
Ball State’s junior guard Jesse Berry, junior forward Chris Bond and senior guard Jauwan Scaife were a large part of the win with 20, 16 and 14 points respectively. However it was 6’9″ junior forward Majok Majok who led the way for the Cardinals with 21 points on 7-10 shooting, while grabbing eight boards, five of which we offensive.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a 17-rebound performance in 20 years of coaching,” Cooper said. “Their effort was way better, point blank. They were just much better than us in all facets of the game.”
Freshman guard Reggie Johnson was able to break out of his shooting slump, scoring 10.
Another bright spot for the ‘Hawks came from the free throw line, hitting all 15 shots.
“It’s been tough, but it’s different in [MAC] play, with a lot of teams knowing as a unit what you’re going to do,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s been telling me to take a deep breath and I tried to do that tonight, but it still wasn’t good enough. As a team, I think it’s just time for everybody to relax. I think everybody’s pretty much going through a frustrating time, and it’s just time to take a deep breath and just play basketball.”
Miami will try again tomorrow to claim its 600th MAC victory, taking on Western Michigan University at 7 p.m. The Broncos are a better team than Ball State, which will present challenges for a struggling Miami squad.
Western Michigan is 12-7 on the season, having beaten Central Michigan by 17 points in its most recent game. Last season’s meeting ended in a nine point defeat for the RedHawks.