Mirambeaux leads MU in comeback win over Huskies
RedHawks rally from 20-point second half deficit
By MIKE SMITH
DEKALB, IL -- Among Anderson Mirambeaux's stats for Saturday's Miami win at Northern Illinois are the numbers "two" and "34."
The senior committed just two fouls, and that helped him stay on the court for 34 minutes in a 66-65 RedHawks win over NIU at the Convocation Center. Mirambeaux led all scorers with 18 points. Among them was a game-tying triple to force overtime and six of MU's eight points in the extra period.
It was an oh-so-welcome win for Miami, which recorded its third win against MAC competition this season. The RedHawks moved to 3-11 MAC and 9-18 overall. Northern Illinois, meanwhile, fell to 7-7 MAC and 11-16 overall.
With Miami's chances of . . .
. . . making the eight-team field in the upcoming MAC tournament slim, it would have been easy for the RedHawks to coast to the finish Saturday after falling behind by 20 in the second half. Taku Youngblood's triple gave the hosts a 54-34 advantage with 9:22 remaining.
Northern Illinois, however, began to struggle on offense. The Huskies made just one more field goal and scored four more points in regulation.
Conversely, Miami got hot, eventually scoring 24 points over the same span. Freshman Ryan Mabry played a key part, draining three straight treys early in the run to pull MU within 11.
When Julian Lewis converted an and-one at 4:37, the RedHawks were within nine. Morgan Stafford followed with a steal and layup and Mirambeaux added two more off a pass inside by Lairy.
That left Miami down by five at 58-53. After NIU missed the front end of a one-and-one, Safford scored on a floater in the lane.
There were 31 seconds left when NIU committed a turnover. After a time out, Miami worked the ball for a shot, but the shot clock was under five seconds as Mirambeaux ended up with the ball. The 6-8 forward didn't hesitate, burying a three to tie the game at 58-all. A final Huskie shot was well off the mark.
Nutter's basket to open OT gave Northern Illinois its last lead. Mirambeaux and Lairy answered with a pair of buckets before Ibarguen tied the game at 62-all on a dunk.
Mirambeaux, who had fouled out of his last two games and averaged 22 minutes of action in those outings, answered with a dunk of his own at the other end and added two free throws after being fouled on the next MU possession. That put Miami up 66-65 with 22.4 seconds left.
Darweshi Hunter's three from the top of the key brought NIU within one with 15 seconds left, and the hosts earned a golden opportunity by forcing a RedHawk turnover on the inbounds pass. However, they were unable to capitalize, missing two shots before the final horn.
Joining Mirambeaux (18 points, nine rebounds) in double figures for Miami were Safford (12 points, 10 rebounds), Mabrey (12 points) and Lairy (12 points).
Anthony Crump paced the Huskies with 12 points and 11 caroms. Nutter was right behind with 16 points. Hunter added 14 points, while Ibarguen chipped in 12.
~~ The Huskies connected on 51.9 percent in the first half, but finished the day hitting 44.1 percent from the field.
~~ NIU outscored Miami 22-8 in the paint before halftime.
~~ The RedHawks hit 24-of-56 (42.9%) from the field overall and 7-of-16 (43.8%) on treys. Mabry hit four-of-five deep balls, while Mirambeaux, Safford and Kamari Williams knocked down one apiece.
~~ Miami recorded one more rebound (36-35). The Huskies had one more turnover (18-17).
~~In recent outings, Miami opponents have had lopsided advantages in free throw attempts and makes. Saturday's game was much closer. Miami hit 11-of-14 (78.6%) free throws. Northern Illinois was good on 7-of-13 (53.8%).
~~ Both teams got very little scoring from their benches. Kamari Williams hit one triple to account for all of MU's bench scoring. Northern Illinois totaled four points from its subs.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.