Rolling RedHawks take care of business at WMU
Fourth straight win sets up critical finale at Buffalo
By MIKE SMITH
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Five RedHawks scored in double figures and MU hit 50 percent from the field as Miami posted a 77-62 road win against Western Michigan Tuesday at University Arena.
It was the fourth straight win for Miami, which raised its record to 6-11 in conference play and 12-18 overall. With losses by Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan Tuesday, MU slipped into sole possession of eighth place. However, the RedHawks will finish their regular season Friday with a road game at Buffalo. Miami won the . . .
. . . first meeting in Oxford, but UB is coming off a 10-point win over Northern Illinois and is typically a tough assignment.
Western Michigan's loss to Miami was its third straight setback and 12th loss in the last 13 games. Now owning a 3-14 MAC record (7-23 overall), the Broncos host rival Central Michigan Saturday.
Tray Maddox Jr. went 10-for-20 from the field and scored 25 points to lead WMU against Miami. However, he was the only starter to reach double figures. Owen Lobsinger, a 6-9 sophomore forward, was the other Bronco in double figures. He tallied 11 points in 15 minutes off the bench.
Miami, meanwhile, put five players in double figures. Senior point guard Mekhi Lairy led the way, with 21 points. He connected on 7-of-11 from the floor overall and five-of-six from outside the arc.
Senior forward Anderson Mirambeaux provided the inside scoring, making 7-of-12 shots from the field on the way to 18 points. He also had four rebounds, three assists and five blocks.
Morgan Safford's 11 points included a nine-for-nine performance at the free throw line. Kamari Williams chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Miami had won the first meeting against WMU in Oxford back on Feb. 7, and the RedHawks were coming off an emotional win over rival Ohio Saturday. However, they quickly showed two things. First, there would be no let down against WMU. Second, they were going to have a good night shooting the ball.
Miami burst out of the gate, scoring the game's first 12 points. Eight of those came from from Lairy, who drained two threes within the first 2:08 of action. Mabry also had the hot hand early and would have 10 points by halftime.
Maddox finally got WMU on the board with an and-one at 15:08, and that started a 15-5 Broncos run that got the hosts untracked. Miami's lead then fluctuated between three and 12 points until intermission. A long triple by Mabry with three seconds left allowed the visitors to take a 36-26 advantage to the locker room.
Although Miami shooting cooled a bit in the final stanza (dropping from 56.0% to 44% from the field), WMU was not able to go on a sustained run. It pulled within five on two occasions and was down by nine (60-51) after a dunk by Maddox at 6:55. However, Lairy hit two free throws to push the lead back to double digits and MU led by as many as 16 (73-57 at 1:01) before finishing with a 15-point victory.
~~ One of the RedHawks keys for the evening was to cut down on the 21 turnovers they had committed Saturday against Ohio. They succeeded in that goal, recording nine, which WMU turned into 10 Broncos points. Western Michigan committeed 11 turnovers, leading to eight RedHawks points.
~~ WMU owned a 36-32 edge in rebounds, with the difference coming primarily on the offensive end, where Western Michigan had a 15-7 edge.
~~ Freshman Jaquel Morris has given MU some key minutes in relief of Anderson Mirambeaux. However, Morris is still fighting foul problems. He played 12 minutes before fouling out with 8:08 to play.
~~ Getting to the line -- and capitalizing there -- has been part of MU's success during recent wins. The RedHawks made 19-of-23 attempts against WMU, which hit 10-of-14 charity tosses.
~~ Broncos guard Lamar Norman Jr. entered Tuesday ranked fifth among MAC scorers with an average of 17.3 ppg. He was held to seven points, hitting 3-of-11 overall and one-of-six tries from long distance.
~~ In addition to the job it did with Norman, Miami's defense held Western Michigan to 38.3 percent from the field and 24 percent (6-of-25) on treys.
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.