Time was winding down in the first half before junior point guard Eric Washington kicked the ball out to senior guard Will Sullivan, who knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the RedHawks ahead 32-30 heading into the locker room. Sullivan would return to the court in the second half and proceed to hit five more 3-point field goals as he finished as Miami's leading scorer with 21 points.
Washington ran point for the RedHawks and seemed to be all over the place, accounting for 17 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. Junior guards Willie Moore and Geovonie McKnight ended with 13 points and 10 points, respectively. Eight of McKnight's ten points came from free throws.
Southern Utah could not hold a lead greater than four points over the RedHawks the whole game and did not lead anytime after Sullivan's 3-point buzzer-beater to end the first half. The RedHawks led for over 27 minutes over the duration of the game.
Miami's second half play was exciting to watch and allows for some optimism regarding just how good the RedHawks can be this year. Washington ran a good point and the team seemed to be communicating and playing together much better this week than they did in their rough exhibition loss at the hands of Division II Edinboro.
"Last week I think a lot of guys were going out there thinking, 'This is my first game so I need to prove myself to the coaches, to the fans,'" said Sullivan. "Today we played for each other. We didn't care who took the shot, who got the rebounds. We played as a unit and played team offense and team defense and that's what I think is the biggest step we took from Edinboro for today."
Miami coach John Cooper said, "It's the first game, so I'm still trying to figure the team out and they're still trying to figure me out. But, from an energy standpoint, I thought it was good enough."
The Thunderbirds fell to 0-2 on the year after the loss. They were led by sophomore guard Trey Kennedy, who put up 17 points. Junior forward A.J. Hess added 14 points.
Miami welcomes a good Evansville team to Oxford on Wednesday at 7:00 pm. "The first game of the year is always interesting," Cooper said. "Guys try to do too much. It's funny because you look around at scores early in the season and it's interesting to see the teams that are losing games. It's good to get the first win out of the way so now we can move on to the next one."