Foul line, rebounds pave way for CMU win over Miami
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Central Michigan's inside game kicked in during the second half and the Chippewas capitalized at the foul line to pull out a 66-60 win over Miami Saturday at Millett Hall.
The victory broke a three-game losing streak for CMU, which raised its MAC record to 4-8 (9-16 overall). Miami, which picked up its second MAC win of the year Tuesday against Western Michigan, fell to 2-10 MAC, 8-17 overall.
Chippewas senior guard Brian Taylor led all scorers with 22 points and also registered a game-high eight rebounds. Freshman Reggie Bass contributed 11 points.
Miami, meanwhile, had four players . . .
. . . in double figures. Point guard Mekhi Lairy led the way with 18 points, followed by Anderson Mirambeaux (14), Morgan Safford (12) and Ryan Mabrey (11). Two of those players, however, fouled out. Their absence contributed to a late Chippewas rally that ultimately carried the day.
Miami led 30-25 at the break and twice built up a 14-point advantage after that. The second was at 13:58 when Mabry hit a jumper to put the RedHawks up 46-32. It was still a double-digit lead (51-40) with 8:50 to go, but CMU chipped away until it took a 58-57 lead on two Taylor free throws with 3:00 remaining.
Central Michigan's rally revolved around a powerful inside game that yielded points and rebounds. By the final horn, CMU had outrebounded Miami 42-22. Among them, the Chippewas had 15 offensive caroms, leading to a 12-4 edge in second chance points.
"They've got a lot of size, athleticism. They're the biggest team in the league,"Miami head coach Travis Steele said. Still, "That was embarrasing. You give up 15 offensive rebounds, that's a problem."
Nearly half of CMU's 41 second half points came at the foul line. After makikng 3-of-9 from the stripe before intermission, the Chippewas hit 19-of-26 charity tosses in the final stanza.
"That's a lot of free throws," Steel said. However, "we've got to make that adjustment if the official is going to call it that way."
Beyond free throws, the plethora of whistles also led to MU's loss of two key cogs. Mirambeaux picked up his fourth and fifth fouls at 6:26 and 5:47. Safford drew his fifth at 2:49.
"I thought that's where the game turned," Steele said. "We've got to keep those guys out of foul trouble."
The game was tied at 58-all when Safford departed, but Miami would get just two more points. That came at 2:23 when Lairy's jumper put the hosts up 60-59. Miroslav Stafl tied the game with a free throw and Bass followed with the game-winner on a drive with 34 seconds left. Four more Bass free throws sealed the Chippewas win.
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.