Turnovers turn the tide as Miami falls to EMU
By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, OH -- Miami held heralded sophomore Emoni Bates to 17 points, but turnovers proved costly as the RedHawks fell to Eastern Michigan 74-69 Saturday at Millett Hall.
With the victory, EMU broke a five-game losing streak and moved its record to 2-6 MAC, 5-16 overall. Miami, meanwhile, dropped its fifth straight game and is now 1-7 in conference action (7-14 overall).
Bates, a 6-10 guard averaging 20.5 ppg,, was coming off a 43-point performance at Toledo, where he scored EMU's last 29 points before halftime. He was one of three Eagles to reach double figures against MU. Noah Farrakhan led the way, hitting 7-of-10 from the field on the way to 20 points. Tyson Acuff contributed 12.
Point guard Mekhi Lairy led the RedHawks with . . .
GAME ACTION PICTURES TO COME SUNDAY
. . . 23 points. Freshman guard Ryan Mabry scored 16 points, reaching double figures for the first time since MU's win over Buffalo back on January 10. Morgan Safford added 13 points.
It was a battle of the MAC's bottom two teams, and Miami clicked on all cylinders out of the gate, building up a 12-2 lead less than four minutes after tipoff. However, MU cooled off and the Eagles tied things at 15-all with 11:30 remaining in the period.
Eastern Michigan held small leads most of the way after that. Billy Smith's layup lifted MU in front 38-37 with 52 seconds remaining, but Acuff drained a three at the other end, and the Eagles led 40-38 at intermission.
His shot was one of just two treys by the Eagles in the first half, and they made two more in the final period to finish 4-of-24 (16.7%) from long distance on the day. Typically, that would be a recipe for losing, especially given that Miami made 10-of-28 (35.7%) from beyond the arc over 40 minutes. However, EMU took advantage of Miami turnovers, holding a 21-4 edge in points off turnovers.
"The stat that really sticks out like a sore thumb for us is turnovers. We had 19 turnovers," Miami Head Coach Travis Steele said. "Good teams don't turn the ball over. You can't win with 19 turnovers. ... We've got to take better care of the ball."
The Eagles were also 12 better on points in the paint and had six more second-chance points.
One of those offensive rebounds set up a key Eagles run starting at 6:29. Miami was down just one (60-59) when Colin Colson came up with the carom of a missed shot. When he went back up to score on a layup, it started an 11-2 EMU run.
"He was more aggressive on the play, got the loose ball and then laid it in," Steele said.
Two free throws by Kevin-David Rice gave Eastern Michigan a 71-61 edge with 3:59 remaining, and three more Eagle tosses from the stripe allowed EMU to hold off the hosts for a five-point win. Eastern Michigan finished with 18 made free throws on 21 attempts -- seven more "makes" than Miami (11-of-16).
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.