OXFORD, Ohio- Despite being tied at halftime, the Miami University men's basketball team (5-8, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) could not overcome the hot shooting in the second half from Northern Illinois (3-10, 1-0 MAC) and lost its MAC opener, 72-61.
Junior forward Will Felder led the RedHawks in scoring with 15 points and sophomore guard Will Sullivan added a career-high eight rebounds, but it was not enough to give the team its first win in a MAC opener since the 2010-11 season.
The second half belonged to the Huskies, who shot over 60 percent from the field and outrebounded the RedHawks, 17-8.
The Huskies jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, punctuated by a thunderous dunk from Darrell Bowie. Miami's guards answered with three consecutive buckets from Sullivan, freshman guard Reggie Johnson, and junior guard Quinten Rollins to gain the lead, and a layup from Felder capped a 10-point run to put the RedHawks on top, 10-4. Northern Illinois fought back to tie the game up at 15-15 on a trey from Akeem Springs with just over 12 minutes to play in the half.
Two jumpers from Miami and two free throws from the Huskies put the RedHawks back on top, but another three from Springs gave Northern Illinois a 20-19 edge. Johnson put Miami back in front, however, with baskets on back-to-back possessions, the latter of which from behind the arc. Another two points from Sullivan and the RedHawks found themselves up by six points again, 26-20, with 6:09 left.
The two squads kept it close for the remainder of the half, and the score was tied at 28-28 when both teams headed to their locker rooms. The RedHawks outshot the Huskies in the first half, shooting over 50 percent from the field compared to just under 40 percent for Northern. A pair of Miami players led all players in the first half in scoring and rebounds, with Johnson scoring nine points and Sullivan grabbing five rebounds.
Scoring remained relatively even through the first five minutes of the second half, with the game being locked up at 36-36. Five straight points from the Huskies put them up 41-36, their largest lead of the game to that point. Miami answered back and came within three, 43-40, with 11:00 remaining on two free throws from Felder. The Huskies, however, took control and that five-point lead grew to a 12-point lead, 58-46, in a matter of minutes.
Miami fought back to within eight points, but never came closer, falling behind by as many as 15. The game ended with a final score of 72-61 in favor of Northern Illinois.
Felder's 15 points led the RedHawks, with Johnson and junior guard Allen Roberts also adding double-digit points with 12 and 11, respectively. Aksel Bolin led the Huskies in both points, 11, and rebounds, five, and Bowie and Abdel Nader added 10 points.
The loss snaps a 13-game home winning streak against Northern Illinois and marks only the second time that Miami has lost to the Huskies in Oxford.
The RedHawks continue MAC play this Saturday with a trip to Buffalo for a 7 p.m. game. They return to Millett Hall next Wednesday for a game against Bowling Green, which is also a 7 p.m. tip-off.