OXFORD, Ohio – Senior forward Will Felder’s jumper with 22 seconds left put the Miami University men’s basketball team up for good in a back-and-forth 67-65 win over Southern Illinois on Sunday at Millett Hall.
The RedHawks (4-6) also welcomed Willie Moore to the court for the first time, with the sophomore guard’s 14 points tying for the team lead.
Freshman forward Joshua Oswald opened the scoring by canning a 3-pointer and tapping in a missed shot to put the RedHawks up 5-0 early on. That lead disappeared quickly with the Salukis countering with an 11-0 run to go up 11-5 with 12:39 left in the opening frame.
The game of runs continued with an 11-2 MU surge to put the Red and White ahead 16-13 with 8:16 showing on the clock. Junior guard Will Sullivan’s 3-pointer with 9:06 left in the half put MU back in front during that surge. An SIU basket cut MU’s lead to one, but the RedHawks answered with a 7-1 spurt to grab a 23-16 lead with under five minutes to go in the first half.
SIU appeared to cut the gap to two heading into halftime when Bronson Verhines made a layup with seven seconds left in the half, but freshman guard Jaryd Eustace hit a running half court shot at the buzzer to give the RedHawks a 34-29 lead at the break.
A 6-2 Saluki spurt pulled them within 36-35 early in the second half. The RedHawks responded with layups from sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight and senior guard Quinten Rollins to move back ahead by five points, but the Salukis came right back with consecutive hoops to pull within a point once again. A Desmar Jackson put back put SIU up 43-42 with 14:39 showing on the clock, its first lead of the second half.
Moore’s three-point play gave the RedHawks the lead right back at 45-43 in this seesaw affair. An Oswald free throw extended the lead to three points, but the Salukis scored five in a row to regain the advantage at 48-46. The Red and White countered with a pair of Rollins free throws and a Moore layup to grab a 50-48 lead midway through the final regulation period. That lead did not last long, with SIU scoring six in a row to take a 54-50 lead with 8:35 remaining, forcing MU into a timeout.
A pair of McKnight free throws capped a 7-2 Miami spurt that gave the Red and White a 57-56 lead with just over five minutes to play. One minute later, Anthony Beane’s 3-pointer put the Salukis back ahead. McKnight hit a trey of his own on the following Miami possession for the 10th lead change of the night, making it 60-59 in favor of the RedHawks.
SIU’s Beane made the lead change hands again, though Moore tied the score with a free throw eight seconds later. The Salukis grabbed the lead right back when Desmar Jackson drove to the hoop for a dunk and made a jumper with 1:21 left to make it 65-61.
Undeterred, Moore started the RedHawks’ final surge by making his only three of the game to draw them within a point. Still, the Red and White needed a stop and got it when Felder swatted Anthony Beane’s shot away. MU fed Felder in the paint and he scored over his defender, his shot from the paint popping straight up in the air before falling in to put the RedHawks ahead 66-65. His bucket represented the 12th lead change of the night.
Nursing a one-point lead, Rollins recorded a steal and was instantly fouled. Rollins split his free throws with six seconds left, extending the lead to 67-65. The Salukis put the ball in the hands of Jackson, who scored a game-high 27 points. He drove down the right side and pulled up for a jumper from 12 feet out, but the shot rattled off the back rim and the RedHawks secured the rebound as time expired to pull out the win.
The RedHawks shot 49 percent from the field and made 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) of their 3-pointers. The Salukis countered with 45.2 percent shooting, but went 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from deep. SIU held a 34-30 edge in rebounding and committed slightly fewer turnovers (14 to Miami’s 16).
Moore was one of three RedHawks to score in double figures and tied McKnight for the team lead with 14 points. Eustace tallied 10 first-half points as well while Felder fell just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine boards.
MU travels to No. 23/22 Massachusetts for its next game on Saturday, Jan. 4. Opening tip is at 7 p.m.