Grunkemeyer's Big Bucket Lifts RedHawks to Championship Berth
By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jason Grunkemeyer made a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left and Miami advanced to the Mid-American Conference tournament championship for the fifth straight year Friday night with a 62-61 victory over Ohio.
Grunkemeyer's shot from the right wing rolled around the rim and dropped in for the RedHawks (17-15), who will play the winner of Friday's second semifinal between second-seeded Kent State and sixth-seeded Ball State in Saturday night's title game with a berth in the NCAA tournament at stake.
Ohio (19-11) had a final chance to win, but Anthony Jones, whose game-winning layup beat Toledo in the quarterfinals, dribbled the ball off his left foot with 1.2 seconds left and Miami's bench poured onto the floor in celebration.
Grunkemeyer and Alex Shorts scored 14 points apiece for eighth-seeded Miami, which for the second straight year has provided the MAC tourney with breathtaking finishes.
The RedHawks, who trailed by nine points in the second half, stunned top-seeded Central Michigan in Thursday's quarterfinals after doing the same thing to No. 1 seed Bowling Green a year ago.
Shorts, who sat out nearly six minutes of the first half and nearly 10 in the second with foul trouble, made his second 3-pointer of the season with 24.8 seconds to go to tie it at 59.
Jones was fouled by Eugene Seals and made two free throws with 22.3 seconds remaining to give Ohio the lead before Grunkemeyer came off a high screen and hit his 3, which did one revolution around the rim before falling.
Jones, who finished with 16 points, then rushed the ball up the floor but lost his dribble about 15 feet from the basket as he tried to drive the left side.
Patrick Flomo had 17 points for the Bobcats. But Brandon Hunter, Ohio's top scorer and an All-MAC first-team selection this season, had just 9 on 2-of-9 shooting.
The Bobcats made 12 of their first 20 field goal tries but missed their final six attempts in the first half and got just three baskets -- all Flomo dunks -- in the first 6:39 of the second half.
Flomo's third dunk put the Bobcats up 43-34 with 13:31 left, and with Shorts stuck on Miami's bench with four fouls, it looked like Ohio might cruise.
But the RedHawks went on a 15-5 run capped by Brian Edwards' baseline jumper with 5:29 remaining to take a 49-48 lead.
Ohio shot only 29 percent (7-of-24) from the floor after halftime.
Miami has one remaining home game on its regular-season slate as the RedHawks host rival Ohio at noon on Saturday, March 8 in the 193rd meeting between the teams. It will be a “Battle of the Bricks” doubleheader day at Millett Hall with the Miami University women’s basketball team also hosting Ohio. Game time will be 30 minutes following the conclusion of the men’s game at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Miami Athletics is offering a special “Rivalry Day” ticket price of $8 for the March 8 doubleheader, which gains admission to BOTH games! Miami University faculty and staff receive an additional bonus with ticket pricing at just $5 per ticket. This also is a pre-sale offer and is not available on game day.
Purchase tickets today by calling the Miami Athletics Ticket Office at 513-529-4295 or clicking here.