Inside game paves way for MU win over Falcons
Mirambeaux, Morris combine for 32 points, 14 rebounds
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Anderson Mirambeaux came through for the Miami RedHawks again Tuesday, but this time he had help with an inside game that powered MU past Bowling Green 74-65 at Millett Hall.
It was Miami's second straight victory, raising the RedHawks to 4-11 in MAC play (10-18 overall). Mirambeaux played a key role in both victories.
Bowling Green, meanwhile, lost its eighth straight, joining Miami at 4-11 MAC (10-18 overall). Samari Curtis led the Falcons, scoring all 17 of his points in the second half. However, Chandler Turner (10 points) was . . .
. . . the only other Falcon in double figures. Leon Ayers III, who poured in 31 points during BGSU's win over Miami one month earlier, was limited to nine points. He also registered nine rebounds and six assists.
Miami Head Coach Travis Steele noted that although Morgan Safford didn't have his best offensive game (4 points, 1-of-7 from the field), he was a an important part of limiting Ayers, who is averaging over 17 ppg. and has twice scored at least 30 points this year. We "made his life really tough tonight."
Like Bowling Green, Miami only had two in double figures. Mirambeaux led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds. Senior point guard Mekhi Lairy tallied 13 points. Forward Kamari Williams added nine points -- all coming on three-point goals -- and six caroms. However, another eight points and six rebounds came from a somewhat surprising source -- Jaquel Morris.
The 6-8 freshman had scored more than two points in a game just once since MAC play began. That was Feb. 14 when he registered eight points at Toledo. That was also the only MAC game in which he had taken more than two shots.
It was different in Tuesday's matchup against Bowling Green. Morris took eight shots, making four -- while giving the RedHawks 15 minutes before fouling out. With Mirambeaux nursing a sore foot, the time and production was particularly valuable.
Asked about the source of his new offensive aggression, Morris noted Lairy had encouraged him. "He told me to look at the rim and become more aggressive, because I would be open most of the time and I just don't take it (the shot). So, I took his word, and I got aggressive this game."
"He's 18 years old (and) playing against a bunch of grown men," Steele said. "He was ready tonight, and I think you're starting to see what he can be. He just did it with sheer effort and physicality. He really impacted the game."
With Mirambeaux and Morris clicking inside, Miami owned a 36-26 edge on points in the paint and 12-6 advantage in second chance points.
Early on, it appeared neither team had brought its offense. They combined for nine points prior to a Mirambeaux layup at 12:55. That put the RedHawks up 6-5. The lead then went back and forth until Isaac Elsasser drained a three at 4:02 to put BGSU up 21-19. The Falcons led by five before Ryan Mabry's layup with five seconds left cut Bowling Green's halftime edge to 29-26.
"I thought our defense in the first half was tremendous, (but) our offense tried to set the game back to the 1940s," Steele said.
The Falcons remained in front until Williams hit a trey at 14:04 to give MU a 41-40 edge. By the 7:25 mark, Miami had built a 13-point advantage (57-44).
Heavy Bowling Green full court pressure in the final five minutes created several turnovers, and BGSU finished the night with a 17-12 advantage in points off turnovers.
"It's really hard to win (with a bunch of turnovers)," Steele said, noting his team worked on beating the press after Northern Illinois and would put more work in before Saturday's home finale against rival Ohio. "We've got to learn how to close games, and we've got to learn how to take care of that rock."
Despite generating the turnovers -- and some anxiety for the home crowd -- Bowling Green could get no closer than five (68-63) at 1:18. A Bryson Tatum layup and his two free throws on the next possession helped seal the verdict.
"Tonight was a good team effort," Steele said. "We had a lot of positive contributions from everybody, and that's what we need … to continue on this upward trend."
Miami outscored the visitors 48-36 in the second stanza, registering three more field goals, three more treys and three more made free throws. The RedHawks hit 13-of-15 from the line, while BGSU went 10-of-17 on second half charity 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.