MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.—Amidst a furious finish, Miami University’s men’s basketball team came away with a 77-70 win at Central Michigan University on Wednesday evening in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams.
Four RedHawks scored in double figures, led by junior guard Will Sullivan and sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight with 17 apiece. It was a career-high for McKnight. Senior forward Will Felder finished with 15 points and a team-leading eight rebounds, while freshman guard Jaryd Eustace tied a career-high with 13 points.
Senior guard Quinten Rollins tied a Miami single-game record that he also tied a season ago with seven steals against the Chippewas.
Miami, who won its 48th MAC opening game, moves to 5-7 overall and 1-0 in MAC play.
Sullivan fueled an early 9-0 Miami run, scoring seven points during the flurry, as Miami leaped out to a quick 9-3 lead by the 15:50 mark. Two 3-pointers by Eustace and a bucket by McKnight helped Miami take a 17-11 lead at 11:23. A layup and a jumper Felder handed Miami a 21-13 lead at the 10:15 mark, but the Chippewas (7-6; 0-1 MAC) closed within three, 21-18, at 7:53 of the first. Freshman forward Joshua Oswald hit a jumper at 7:18 to put the RedHawk lead at 23-18.
Miami shot over 50 percent through much of the first half, but as hot as they were from the field in the first 13 minutes of the half, the RedHawks’ shooting went cold for the most of the remainder of the opening stanza. CMU used a 9-0 run from the 5:16 to the 1:05 mark to capture a 27-23 advantage. Eustace drained a trey with 38 seconds remaining to put the RedHawks within one going into the half, 27-26, and gave Miami its first points since Oswald’s bucket at 7:18.
The teams went back and forth to start the second half. CMU took a 36-33 lead at 16:26, but Miami went on a 10-2 surge—powered by a pair of Felder buckets—to capture a 46-38 advantage with 11:47 to go. A McKnight triple followed by a Rollins fastbreak layup off his own steal pushed the Miami lead to 10 at the 7:55 mark, 54-44. Sophomore guard Willie Moore picked off a CMU pass in the lane and took it the length of the floor for a bucket at 5:50 to give Miami an 11-point lead, 60-49.
CMU scored five straight points to cut the RedHawk lead to six, but Miami came back with four straight points to again take a double figure lead at the 4:21 mark off two Felder free throws, 64-54. Central Michigan continued to close the gap and trailed three with 59 seconds to play after the Chippewas hit a layup and then stole the RedHawks’ inbounds pass and tossed in another layup to shrink the Miami lead to 69-66.
After Miami went up 72-66, the Chippewas again closed within three with 31 seconds to go, 73-70. Sullivan hit a pair of free throws and tossed in a layup following Rollins’ record-tying seventh steal to seal the win.
Miami’s strong shooting from early in the first half returned in the second as the Red and White connected on 55.2 percent of their field goals over the final 20 minutes of action.
CMU’s Chris Fowler led all players with 22 points and added a game-high seven assists.
Miami returns home to host Western Michigan at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11. It is the last McFamily and Friends game where fans can purchase a ticket package that includes four tickets and four McDonald’s Extra Value Meal vouchers for just $40. This package is not available on game day and must be pre-purchased online or by calling the Miami Athletics Ticket office at 513-529-4295.