The Miami University men’s basketball team (8-10, 4-3 MAC) was undone by a toxic combination of poor three point shooting and rebounding, losing to the University of Toledo (18-2, 6-1 MAC) 83-70.
Head coach John Cooper said he thought the RedHawks did not play with the sense of urgency required to beat the current Mid-American Conference (MAC) leader.
“I thought we came ready to play,” Cooper said. “Our capacity to get there just wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Cooper said heading into the game he was concerned the undersized RedHawks would have trouble combatting the length of the Rockets. His concerns would prove to be legitimate, as the ‘Hawks were outmuscled on the glass by a 44-26 margin, surrendering 16 offensive boards.
“At times our size really bothers us,” Cooper said. “You look at Toledo and the ability to throw the ball into [sophomore center Nathan] Boothe is huge, and not that he has to score. His size draws attention. And so, for us, we’re not the biggest team so we go down and double.”
MU was just as unlucky from three-point range, as they converted only one of their 17 attempts from deep. Overall, Miami shot 41.5 percent from the field while Toledo shot at a 55 percent clip.
Sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight led the RedHawks in scoring with a career-high 18 points and four steals. Senior guard Quinten Rollins also played well, contributing 14 points to go along with five boards and four assists.
McKnight attributed Miami’s poor shooting to simply not converting open shots.
“The second half they kind of sank bank in the paint and we had a lot of open shots that we just didn’t knock down,” McKnight said.
Boothe accounted for 14 points, part of a balanced scoring effort for the Rockets that saw four players reach double figures. Junior guard Justin Drummond also chipped in with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The RedHawks were able to keep pace with the Rockets in a frenetic first half despite being outrebounded 21-15 and not converting a single three-point attempt. Miami entered the locker room down 37-33.
McKnight led the RedHawks in the first half with 10 points. McKnight provided the best highlight of the opening period, forcing a steal and soaring down the court for an uncontested one-handed slam with 1:06 remaining.
Sophomore guard Willie Moore sparked the team off the bench in the opening period with an attacking mentality, driving the lane and finishing with several acrobatic layups en route to seven first half points. Moore started the second half in place of freshman forward Josh Oswald, but a quick foul in the opening minute forced him to the bench and disrupted his rhythm. He did not score for the rest of the game.
Toledo sprung out of the gate in the second half, embarking on a 6-0 run which forced Miami to call a timeout with 17:53 remaining. The Rockets largely controlled the game from that point on, maintaining a double digit lead for the rest of the way. Toledo shot 64 percent in the second half.
Cooper said this loss will ultimately help the ‘Hawks in the long run.
“We’re coming,” Cooper said. “We’re getting there. We’ve got a ways to go but this is good for this group. You need to experience this and understand what this feels like. Understand what the moment is all about – that’s one of the steps to continuing to grow.”