It was not a pretty offense showing from the Miami RedHawks early on as the team failed to put the ball through the hoop for much of the first half. A second-half spark guided by Geovanie McKnight, Eric Washington, and Will Sullivan proved not enough for the 'Hawks to mount a comeback win, as they fell to the Wright State Raiders 66-59.
Multiple 3-pointers from Sullivan helped Miami to spark an 8-0 run about midway through the final half to cut the WSU lead to 39-33. After the under-12 media timeout, the Raiders went on a 6-0 run of their own, though it was far from the last gasp from Miami. Defensive pressure via a full-court press helped the RedHawks to keep themselves in the game by causing nine second-half turnovers. McKnight led the charge that pulled Miami within five with multiple drives into the paint in the second half. Washington contributed buckets late, as both contributed 16 to lead the 'Hawks in points. Miami cut it to 61-57 with two McKnight free throws with 32 seconds remaining.
TJ Yoho stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points and 11 boards. Coming off the bench, the Raiders' Steven Davis provided a defensive spark, grabbing seven rebounds in the first half. Perhaps most importantly, the Raiders shared the ball better than Miami, as they dished out more assists to a tune of 18-9.
The game started out quickly and without stoppages, as the refs in Fairborn refused to blow their whistles over the first six minutes. The first game stoppage came with 5:26 into the game, as both teams missed shots and defensive boards contributed to the fast-paced but low-scoring start. Sullivan netted one of his five 3-pointers to break the scoreless, 0-0 tie at the 16:29. There was an evident lack of tenacity for Miami early, something that picked up towards the end of the first half and continued into the second.
"We did a little bit with the press and were able to turn them over a bit and get some deflections," Head Coach John Cooper said.
There was no inside game to speak of for Miami early, who picked up its points inside courtesy of drives to the bucket. At the end of the first, WSU led 30-16 as Miami shot 27.3%.
"They're a tough gritty team, they're going to do a good job defensively," said Head Coach John Cooper.
Grant Benzinger of Cincinnati, Ohio (he attended Moeller High School, everyone's favorite D-I powerhouse in high school football) led the way for WSU early, hitting three from distance in the first half alone. Benzinger and a litany of other Raiders contributed to a 59.1 Field Goal percentage in the first half.
Overall, Head Coach Billy Donlon of Wright State was pleased with his team's performance "This game is a significant game to all of us, to me especially, just because I think that Wight State is a University that is in every way possible, on-par with Miami of Ohio. And I don't think from a national perspective that we get the necessary due at times.
Miami fell to 2-7 with the loss and WSU moved to 7-4 with the tight win.