TOLEDO, Ohio-In a game that made every second count, the Miami University men's basketball team (8-13, 3-6 Mid-American Conference) suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Toledo Rockets (10-10, 6-3 MAC) on Wednesday night on a 3-pointer at the buzzer, 65-64.
Freshman guard Reggie Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound and put back a missed shot with 3.3 seconds left to put the RedHawks up 64-62. After advancing the ball past half-court and taking a timeout, the Rockets' Nathan Boothe heaved up a three that found the bottom of the net as time expired, giving Toledo the victory.
Miami jumped out to an 8-4 lead thanks to its freshman guards Geovonie McKnight and Johnson, the latter of which opened the scoring up with a trey. The Rockets came back within two, 12-10, but the RedHawks scored eight of the next 10 points to go up 20-12 with 11:52 left in the half. Their scoring run was punctuated by a breakaway dunk by junior guard Allen Roberts.
Miami held its eight-point lead for the next few minutes, but Toledo suddenly found its stroke from behind the arc and the Rockets quickly found themselves with a one-point lead, 25-24, with just over eight minutes remaining. The RedHawks wrestled the lead back momentarily on a layup from junior center Drew McGhee, but Toledo's Julius Brown and Dominique Buckley kept the Rockets' hot shooting alive to put their team up by nine, 35-26.
Scoring six unanswered points, Miami headed into halftime down just three, 35-32. Johnson and McKnight led all RedHawk scorers in the half with nine and seven points, respectively. The Rockets made 5-of-10 triples and shot over 55 percent from the field in the opening half.
Junior forward Will Felder scored the first bucket of the second half to put Miami within one, but his points were quickly answered by Toledo's Boothe. Despite keeping it close for the first few minutes of the half, the Rockets pulled away to the tune of a 10-point lead, 49-39, with just under 13 minutes left. The RedHawks stormed back with nine straight points to make the score 49-48.
Another basket from Boothe and two free throws from McKnight kept the Miami deficit at one, until junior forward Jon Harris nailed a three at 7:15 to give the RedHawks their first lead since the 7:38 mark of the first half, 53-51. Toledo's Rian Pearson hit a shot to tie the game on the next possession.
The Rockets spent the game's next minutes crawling towards a three-point lead, 57-54. With five minutes left, Johnson was fouled on a 3-point shot that found nothing but net, tying the game and giving Johnson the opportunity for a four-point play. He couldn't capitalize, but Harris grabbed the offensive rebound and found junior guard Quinten Rollins, who hit a shot to put Miami up by two.
A Toledo free throw and a Roberts trey later, the RedHawks were in command of a four-point lead, 62-58, with 3:41 left. The lead didn't last long as Toledo's Matt Smith made a 3-pointer and Julius Brown made the second of his two free throws to knot the game at 62-62 with just over one minute remaining.
With the RedHawks having possession and just 51 second left, Rollins turned the ball over under the basket to the Rockets, who returned the favor by committing their own turnover just 14 seconds later. Miami called a timeout and, after taking nearly the entire shot clock, Roberts took a shot to put the RedHawks ahead. Though his shot didn't fall, Johnson was there to collect the rebound and lay one in with 3.4 seconds left and give Miami a 64-62 lead.
Despite having such little time on the clock, it was enough for the Rockets' Nathan Boothe to get open out on the left wing and nail a three as time expired to give Toledo its fourth straight win.
Johnson led the RedHawks with 16 points, while three others reached double-figures: Roberts with 15, McKnight with 11, and Felder with 10. Felder's seven rebounds led all players. Toledo's Brown was the game's leading scorer with 18 points, and Pearson and Boothe each scored in double-digits with 16 and 13, respectively.
Despite being the nation's second-best team from the charity stripe, the Rockets were bested by the RedHawks at the line, shooting 77 percent to Miami's 83 percent. The RedHawks also outrebounded their opponents 29 to 25. It's the third straight game Miami has outrebounded its opponent.
The RedHawks return home to host Akron at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 in the first game of a men's and women's basketball doubleheader against the Zips. It will be Hall of Fame Day where Miami Athletics will honor its six inductees--Dale Cohen (women's tennis), Terry Hoeppner (football coach), P.L. (Pete) Miller (men's track & field), Ben Roethlisberger (football), Karin Sherr (synchronized skating) and Kyle Voska (golf)--at halftime of the men's game.