Toledo free throws sink Safford-less RedHawks
By MIKE SMITH
TOLEDO, OH -- The Miami RedHawks managed to stay with Toledo back on Jan. 31, finally falling by three (81-78). The Rockets, however, made sure there was no such drama in the second meeting as they posted a comfortable 89-71 victory over MU.
It didn't help Miami that Morgan Safford was unavailable due to an injury from Saturday. The junior guard tallied 25 points in the first meeting. His absence put even more pressure on a relatively inexperienced team that has lost nine of its last 10 outings.
As has been the case lately, fouls were . . .
. . . again a key factor. Toledo, which recorded its 10th straight win and remained in a tie for first place with an 11-2 MAC record (20-6 overall) eventually got to the line for 30 free throws and made 26. Miami (2-11 MAC, 8-18 overall) finished with six free throws and five makes. In fact, the RedHawks had just one attempt in the entire second half, while UT went 19-of-22 on charity tosses.
Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor, with Miami hitting 30-of-60 and the Rockets knocking down 26-of-52. Toledo owned one more 3-point goal.
All five Toledo starters reached double figures, led by senior forward Setric Millner Jr.'s 19-point night. RayJ Dennis, who was 8-for-8 at the foul line, registered 17 points, followed by JT Shumate (14), Dante Maddox Jr. (12) and Raheim Moss (11).
Point guard Mekhi Lairy and forward Anderson Mirambeaux tallied 12 apiece to lead MU. The latter managed his dozen points, six rebounds and six assists in just 18 minutes on the court. Despite sitting for extended periods, Mirambeaux fouled out with 6:31 remaining. It was his second straight game with five fouls and fifth in the last six games with at least four fouls as opponents take the ball inside.
Miami's options when Mirambeaux sits are limited. Freshman Jaquel Morris, whose previous high was four points, managed eight points and three rebounds while playing 13 minutes. Jackson Kenyon scored four points.
The RedHawks did get a lift from freshman guard Ryan Mabry, who scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds while logging 33 minutes.
Toledo wasted little time taking control as Shumate scored the game's first eight points. The Rockets were leading 10-7 when AJ Edu started an 11-2 UT run to forge a double-digit lead, 21-9. The hosts were up 10 before finishing the period with six straight points -- four at the line -- for a 47-31 halftime edge.
Miami managed to get within 11 several times in the second stanza, but Toledo kept its distance and put together an 11-2 surge midway through the period to pull away.
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.