YPSILANTI, Mich. – After a tough offensive first half, a furious rally led by redshirt junior guard Jake Wright nearly completed a 17-point comeback, but a last second steal left the Miami University men’s basketball team one-point short as it fell to Eastern Michigan, 58-57, Tuesday evening. The RedHawks are now 13-13 overall and 6-7 in the Mid-American Conference. The Eagles improve to 15-11 overall and 6-7 in the MAC.
Wright drained six of his seven made 3-point baskets during the second half rally, finishing with a team-high 21 points. Sophomore forward Bam Bowman also had a huge impact on the comeback attempt, scoring all 11 of his points during the second half.
A jumper from freshman forward Dalonte Brown and a three-pointer by freshman guard Nike Sibande saw Miami quickly jump to a 5-0 lead a little over two minutes into the contest. EMU answered with 10 straight points as the RedHawks went on a three minute scoring drought. That was ended by back-to-back buckets from senior forward Rod Mills Jr. that made it 10-9 with 13:57 to go.
Miami then went the next 11:15 without a made basket, only connecting on a pair of Sibande free throws. During that stretch the Eagles went on an 18-2 run to build a 28-11 advantage. A layup from sophomore center Darius Harper and a layup from Sibande got the RedHawk offense on a bit of a role, while Wright’s first three of the game pulled MU to within 15 at 33-18 at the half. It was a tough shooting half for the Red and White as they went 7-for-25 (28.0 percent) from the field. Eastern Michigan was able to use five 3-point makes to help build its lead.
Wright opened the second half with a triple, while Sibande and Mills Jr. hit back-to-back jumpers to quickly pull the ‘Hawks to within eight at 33-25 at the 18:14 mark. A layup from Bowman and back-to-back threes from Wright and Mills capped a 16-3 start to the period and made it 36-34 with 14:09 to go.
Miami had another scoring drought as Eastern Michigan followed with an 11-2 run over the next five and a half minutes to push the advantage back to double digits at 47-36. Wright then caught fire, draining three straight from behind the arc as part of a 9-2 run that made it 49-45 with 6:22 remaining in the game.
Trailing 54-46 at the 4:10 mark, an old-fashioned three-point play from Bowman plus a couple more free throws from the sophomore center made it 56-52 with 2:33 to go. Wright’s seventh trey of the contest pulled Miami to within one before the Eagles hit a tough jumper to make it 58-55 at the 47 second mark. Junior guard Darrian Ringo found Bowman down low for a layup with 21 seconds left to pull within one. The RedHawks fouled and EMU missed the front end of its one-and-one, giving Miami one final chance with nine seconds to remaining. Unfortunately, the Eagles held strong on the out of bounds play after a timeout, forcing a steal to secure the 58-57 victory.
In the second half the RedHawks shot 54.2 percent (13-for-24), including 7-for-11 (63.6 percent) from behind the arc. They finished the contest at 40.8 percent (20-for-49) shooting. Mills and Sibande scored nine points each, with Sibande also recording a career-high six steals. Ringo finished with eight assists, while Bowman had a team-high eight rebounds for Miami. Eastern Michigan was led by Elijah Minnie with 24 points.
The RedHawks return to action on Saturday when they travel to Ohio for their first Battle of the Bricks game this season. Tip time is 3:30 p.m. and it will air live on ESPN3.