Victory slips away, but RedHawks slip in anyway
Miami will face No. 1 seed Toledo Thursday
By MIKE SMITH
BUFFALO, NY -- Miami Head Coach Travis Steele wanted his team to create its own "luck" Friday by beating Buffalo on the road to seal the eighth -- and final -- spot in next week's MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. For 30 minutes, it appeared MU was going to take care of business once again for its fifth straight victory.
Things quickly changed in the second half, however, as UB opened with a 13-0 run to take the lead. The Bulls then went on to post a 68-63 senior night win.
It was the third win in four games for Buffalo, which raised its record to 9-9 in MAC play (15-16 overall). The Bulls had already clinched a tourney spot and finish sixth in the MAC standing. Miami, however, was in a position to put itself in the tourney with a win.
If it lost, MU needed all three teams that were one game behind to lose in Friday's action, and . . .
. . . that is what happened. Hence, the No. 8-seeded RedHawks will meet No. 1 Toledo Thursday (11 a.m. ET) at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. Buffalo meets No. 3 seed Akron in the day's fourth game.
The Bills, who played without leading scorer Curtis Jones, were led by forward Isaiah Adams (16 points). Laquill Hardnett tallied 13 and Zip Powell registered 12 points. Center Issac Jack scored six points and pulled down 11 boards to help Buffalo outrebound Miami 40-25. The Bulls had a 13-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Anderson Mirambeaux paced the RedHawks with 18 points, followed by Safford (14) and Lairy (11).
Miami, which connected on 47.1 percent from the field overall had one more field goal (24) than UB (23 field goals, 39.0%). Buffalo hit six treys, one more than the RedHawks. Half those came late as UB's last three field goals all came from behind the arc.
As much as those hurt, a good deal of Buffalo's damage was facilitated by its work on the boards. The hosts outscored Miami 16-2 on second chance points.
Both teams struggled mightily on offense early, and UB registered its second field goal of the game with 12:20 to go on a drive by Adams. That put the Bulls up 7-3 until Safford hit a three at the other end.
Mirambeaux, who scored 12 first half points, gave Miami the lead (11-9) with a short hook shot at 10:30. The RedHawks remained in front, using an 11-0 run to fashion a 15-point lead before taking a 38-29 advantage to the locker room.
While Mirambeaux hit 5-of-7 attempts before intermission, a several close-range shots failed to fall when play resumed. Powell then primed the UB pump with a couple steals that led to layups. When Jack scored his second basket of the half at 16:59, Buffalo owned a 39-38 edge.
Having seized momentum, the Bulls remained in front until Mirambeaux scored from close range at 1:06. That 63-62 lead lasted one trip down the court. Jack drew a foul and hit two free throws.
After a Miami miss, Adams was fouled. His two free throws put UB up 66-63. Mirambeaux's long distance drive and shot followed, missing the mark. The RedHawks were then forced to foul once again, and Powell knocked down two final tosses.
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.