Free throws fuel late CMU rally past Miami
By MIKE SMITH
MOUNT PLEASANT, MI -- Visiting Miami led nearly 80 percent of the game, but RedHawks shooting went cold late and Central Michigan came from behind to defeat MU 68-56 Tuesday at McGuirk Arena.
Neither team shot all that well in their Mid-American Conference opener. Miami (6-8, 0-1 MAC) finished at 33.9 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent on treys. CMU (6-8. 1-0 MAC) connected on 35.7 percent overall and 16.7 percent outside the arc.
Both teams made 20 field goals and . . .
. . . MU managed just one more 3-point goal while sinking 5-of-26 attempts from long distance. Of Central Michigan's four triples, two came from Markus Harding. The 6-10 sophomore managed to key the Chippewas late rally despite playing with four fouls. His 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a putback at 8:22 tied the contest at 47-all.
Kamari Williams responded with a three at the other end, but neither team could hit a field goal again until Brian Taylor tied the game at 50-50 with a backdoor cut for a layup at 4:12.
Anderson Miranbeaux gave Miami its last lead with a jumper at 2:34. The senior finished with 18 point and 11 rebounds. He was 8-of-10 at the line, where the RedHawks -- one of the nation's free throw shooting leaders -- sank 11-of-17 shots overall. Morgan Safford led MU with 20 points.
Harding's triple from the corner at 2:34 put CMU in front 53-52, and the Chippewas pulled away on free throws. In fact, a tap in by Mirambeaux and jumper by Taylor were the only field goals scored by either team over the final two minutes. Taylor finished with 16 points, three behind teammate Jesse Zarzuela, who went 13-of-13 at the stripe on the night and eight-of-eight in the final two minutes.
Most stats were fairly even. However, Central Michigan, which was coming off an upset win over Michigan, helped its own cause with advantages in rebounding (48-35) and free throws (MU 11/17 -- CMU 24/32). The Chippewas connected on 20-of-25 after intermission.
~~ The RedHawks open their MAC open slate Saturday, opening against a very strong Kent State team. The Golden Flashes (11-3, 1-0 MAC) have won frive straight, including their MAC opener against Western Michigan (80-72 Tuesday).
~~ Central Michigan goes on the road Saturday to meet Eastern Michigan (3-11, 0-1 MAC) The Eagles fell to Bowling Green (91-65) Tuesday.
~~ CMU freshman Reggie Bass registered 16 points in the Chippewas recent win at Michigan. However, he went 0-for-11 from the field against Miami . To make matters worse, he injured an arm in the final minutes of Tuesday's victory over MU.
~~ Mekhi Lairy, who leads the RedHawks with an average of 18.2 ppg, struggled from the field against CMU. He went 3-of-12 overall and was 1-of-7 on treys. He also missed both free throw attempts. He had missed two free throws only one other time this season -- Dec. 17 when he hit 14-of-16 against Bellarmine.
~~ Despite the return of several starters to the lineup, scoring depth is still an issue with Miami. Central Michigan's bench outscored Miami 29-7. All seven came from Williams.
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.