OXFORD, Ohio – In the opening round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the No. 8 seed Miami University men’s basketball team downed No. 9 seed Kent State, 71-64, to punch their ticket to Cleveland. Miami will face No. 5 seed Ohio on Wednesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Miami (13-17) advances to the second round of the MAC Tournament for the second straight year and is now 6-1 in MAC Tourney first-round games. The RedHawks also head to Cleveland having won four of their last six contests.
Miami got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-3 early in the first half. Both sides exchanged points over the next several minutes and the Golden Flashes held a 17-12 advantage with 11:06 remaining.
Down by five, the RedHawks responded with a strong 9-0 run to put them on top, 21-17 with 8:49 remaining. Sophomore center John Hawkins notched a layup and then sank two free-throws during that span.
Kent State (16-16) answered the RedHawks with a 12-4 run of its own. With the Golden Flashes on top, 29-25, senior forward Will Felder was fouled while going up for a layup. Felder made the layup and buried the free-throw attempt, bringing the RedHawks within one with just over a minute remaining in the first half.
Both teams exchanged points after that and brought the score to 31-30, Kent State ahead. With the game clock below the shot clock, junior guard Will Sullivan was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. Sullivan converted all three of his free-throw attempts to give the RedHawks a 33-31 lead with three seconds left in the half.
Kent State’s Chris Brewer hit a 3-pointer as time expired, but after video review the officials ruled the shot had not gotten off in time. The two squads entered the locker room with Miami on top, 33-31.
Miami bolted out of the gates in the second half, starting on a 10-2 run. Willie Moore notched eight points during that RedHawk rally, including two 3-pointers, the second coming with 14:51 remaining in the game and giving Miami its first double-digit lead of the night.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Miami led 52-42, but the Golden Flashes were not done yet. Kent State strung together a 13-2 run over the span of four and a half minutes to bring themselves within two points of the RedHawks. Miami held a narrow 59-57 advantage with 4:10 left in the game.
Miami never surrendered their lead but with 90 seconds remaining in the contest the Red and White were winning by just two points, 63-61. Senior guard Quinten Rollins took a hard drive to the hoop and squeezed through to deliver a layup with 1:22 left in the game. After a foul resulted in one of two made free-throws by Kent State, Miami had the ball back in its control.
With the shot clock winding down, Rollins once again drove aggressively to the hoop and made a layup to give the Red and White a 67-62 lead with 33 seconds remaining.
Miami never looked back from there, making four free-throws down the stretch and advancing to the second round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on the heels of a 71-64 victory.
For the second game in a row, sophomore guard Willie Moore led the team in scoring, this time notching 17 points. Four RedHawk shooters ended the game in double-digit scoring as Rollins and Sullivan both notched 13 and Felder tallied 10.
Those that purchase 2014-15 Men’s Basketball season tickets will have the opportunity to purchase $5 tickets for any Miami contest throughout the entire MAC Tournament. Tickets prices for all other fans will be $20 for Wednesday night’s game. Tickets can be purchased through the Miami Athletic Ticket Office or at the Miami table in Quicken Loans Arena off of Huron Street.