Experienced UT squad edges scrappy RedHawks
Safford leads Miami with double-double
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- RayJ Dennis equaled his career high of 29 points to lead Toledo over Miami 81-78 Tuesday at Millett Hall.
Toledo (7-2 MAC, 16-6 overall) had to fight off a scrappy Miami to gain its sixth straight victory. The RedHawks (1-8, 7-15) went down swinging while absorbing their sixth consecutive loss. The last three have been by five points or less.
Four MU players reached double figures, led by Morgan Safford's 25 points with 11 rebounds. Point guard Mekhi Lairy . . .
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. . . nearly registered his down double-double, tallying 16 points and grabbing nine boards. Anderson Mirambeaux provided 18 points, while Ryan Mabry added 14.
Both teams shot relatively well overall. Toledo connected on 33-of-64 (51.6%) from the field, while MU made 31-of-58 (53.4%). Miami owned one more trey (10-of-24) than the Rockets (9-of-22) and both teams made six free throws.
"I knew we'd have to score with them tonight to have a chance," Miami Head Coach Travis Steele said. "I thought out offense was good enough."
It was, in fact, a remarkably close game in many statistical areas. Toledo did manage to do damage in the paint, however, as it held a 44-32 edge in points in the paint. It also had a 15-6 advantage in second chance points despite the fact that Miami owned a 33-29 edge in rebounding overall and both teams grabbed nine offensive caroms.
"At the end of the day, the game was won on the glass," Steele said. "You can't give a team like Toledo multiple looks at the rim. ... They are too good offensively, and they made us pay."
The Rockets broke in front early, but Mirambeaux's work inside at least allowed MU to keep things from quickly getting out of hand. Even so, the visitors went up by 10 (16-6) after EJ Farmer's goal at 15:30.
The RedHawks then went on an 18-6 run to gain their own lead of the game. Safford's fastbreak layup at 10:02 left MU in front 24-22. Farmer scored in the paint at the other end and Miller followed with a layup to put UT back in front for good. Toledo led by nine with 1:29 left in the first stanza and took a 40-35 lead to intermission.
Miami was still within five points (58-53) with 11:00 left, but the Rockets then went on an 11-4 run. By the 8:50 mark, Toledo owned its largest lead of the game, 66-55. Safford, who had 19 second half points, helped the RedHawks chip away. However, they never got closer than the final margin of three points.
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.