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Ohio Bobcats vs. Miami RedHawks men's basketball final score: 'Hawks earn fans' love in defeating Ohio 77-66

It was an emotional day in Oxford, and the Redhawks gave their fans a fitting finish by defeating rival Ohio

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be any love between two old rivals, but there was plenty of love for the RedHawks in Oxford after the men's basketball team surged past Ohio, 77-66. The RedHawks may have the worst record in the MAC East, but it didn't matter on this Valentine's Day afternoon: the crowd was filled with passion from before the opening tip, when Miami legend Charlie Coles was honored before the game. Cole's #10 was retired, and a spot was left for him on the bench- but today, the RedHawks did not need him.

Not that it appeared that way at first: Ohio throttled the RedHawks early in the game, threatening to extend their winning streak over Miami to seven games. While the 'Hawks managed to keep it close through the first five minutes, but after the game's first media timeout, the Bobcats went on a run. A 10-8 Ohio lead became a 22-11 Ohio lead in just four minutes, thanks to a couple of buckets from seniors Maurice Ndour and Stevie Taylor. By the second commercial break, that lead had ballooned to 27-13.

But this was not the RedHawks team of old, who would roll over and die once they fell too far behind. Will Sullivan hit a couple of 3-pointers, and Eric Washington laid in several shots from around the hoop. Ohio had lead 27-13 at the midpoint of the first half, but by halftime the RedHawks had made it 41-38.

The second half was a back-and-forth battle worthy of a true rivalry. It was a level of competitiveness that had been missing from games between these two programs for the last several years. That began to change last season, as Miami took Ohio to overtime on one occasion- but the 'Hawks still lost both games.

Today, they would not be denied. Miami quickly took the lead following a Chris Bryant jumper and a Willie Moore layup. Ohio responded with an Ndour 3-pointer. After five minutes, the score was knotted at 48 all.

Then the RedHawks took flight. Geovonie McKnight hit three straight shots to put his team up by 6. Following a bucket from Ohio's Ryan Taylor, Miami went on a 10-0 run, spurred on by the rejuvenated home crowd. The Bobcats found themselves lapsing into the same flat play that had plagued them against Central Michigan on Tuesday. Khari Harley, who had been strong for the 'Cats in the first half, started turning the ball over. His teammates could not hit their shots.

Ohio would not draw within single digits again, and the RedHawks ran down the game's final seconds as the attendees of Millett Hall let out a roar.

The RedHawk attack was spearheaded by its three guards:  Washington, McKnight, and Sullivan who finished with 17, 17 and 15 points. Guard Zach McCormick came off the bench to add 10 points. The rest of the team combined for 18 points.

Antonio Campbell was the best for Ohio, matching Miami's best with 17 points- 9 of them coming from three 3-pointers. Javarez Willis finished with 14 points, despite shooting 42% from the field. Shooting percentage was a problem for Willis' teammates as well, who combined for a 45% from the field- 10% worse than the RedHawks. Ndour was the only other Bobcat over 10- he finished with 11.

Game Leaders

Points 2 tied (17) A. Campbell (17)
Rebounds G. McKnight (6) A. Campbell (10)
Assists E. Washington (7) 4 tied (3)
Blocks C. Bryant (2) A. Campbell (2)
Steals W. Moore (4) M. Ndour (2)