OXFORD, Ohio – Two big defensive plays in the final four seconds capped a furious finish as Miami University’s men’s basketball team won a nail-biter on Wednesday night, defeating Akron 65-61 at Millett Hall. The win was the second straight for the RedHawks, who improved to 11-15 overall and 7-8 in Mid-American Conference play.
To start the night, Miami won the opening tip and sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight scored a quick basket to give the RedHawks an early 2-0 lead. The Zips (17-11; 9-6 MAC) responded with an 11-1 run.
Trailing 11-3, junior guard Will Sullivan snapped the Zips’ scoring surge with a fast-break layup and Miami began to inch their way back.
With the score sitting at 15-11, Sullivan knocked down a 3-pointer to put the RedHawks within one. Senior forward Will Felder scored next, giving Miami their first lead of the game, 15-14, with 7:13 remaining in the half.
Sullivan then knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Red and White on top, 18-16. Next time down the court, Sullivan knocked down another trey, putting the RedHawks up by five and capping their 18-5 run. Miami led 21-16 with 3:48 remaining in the first.
The two teams traded points over the rest of the first half and entered the locker room with Miami ahead, 27-20. Sullivan finished the half with 15 points including three 3-pointers.
Coming out of the half, Miami widened their lead, holding a 38-28 advantage with 15 minutes left in the game. Felder threw down a big fastbreak slam dunk to put the RedHawks ahead 43-30, their largest lead of the night.
Over the remainder of the second half, Akron began to chip away at the 13-point deficit before tying the score at 53 apiece with 5:50 remaining. The two teams went back and forth over the next four minutes but Miami never surrendered its lead.
With 90 seconds left in the game, Miami held a 62-59, but Akron’s Quincy Diggs knocked down a jumper with 1:06 remaining to put the Zips within one.
Akron fouled Sullivan with 20 seconds left in the game, sending him to the line for a one-and-one attempt. Sullivan missed his attempt and Akron had another opportunity.
The Zips took the ball down court with the game clock now below the shot clock. With four seconds remaining in the game, Felder blocked Akron’s Quincy Diggs’ and the RedHawks regained possession, leading 62-61. Sullivan recovered the ball and was fouled almost instantly. Sullivan knocked down the first free-throw but missed the second.
With 1.2 seconds left on the clock and Miami winning 63-61, Akron had one final chance. Miami’s senior guard Quinten Rollins intercepted the inbounds and was fouled with 0.9 seconds left. He made both free-throws en route to the RedHawks’ 65-61 victory.
Rollins tallied six steals during the win, putting his career total at 203. He became the 15th player in MAC history to record 200 career steals and is now tied for 13th place on that list. Rollins also has 62 steals this season, which ties him with Ron Harper for third on Miami’s single-season steal list.
Three RedHawks finished the game in double-digit scoring with Felder and Sullivan both posting 16 while McKnight notched 13 of his own.
Akron was led by Deji Ibitayo’s 14 points, while Demetrius Treadwell followed wth 12 points and 11 rebounds. Diggs finished with a game-high 12 boards for the Zips.
Miami hits the road for two games beginning with a contest at Buffalo on Saturday, March 1 at noon. The game will be televised by Time Warner Cable Sports Channel and ESPN3. The RedHawks return home for their season finale the next Saturday when they play host to rival Ohio University at noon in the first game of a men’s and women’s doubleheader against the Bobcats. Tickets are just $8 with a Miami Faculty/Staff price of just $5.