AKRON, Ohio -- The Miami RedHawks erased slow starts in both halves with gritty play down the stretch to post a 57-52 overtime win over the Akron Zips Saturday at James A. Rhodes Arena. It was the first Miami win at the facility in 12 tries and third consecutive win for MU, which upset Bowling Green on the road earlier in the week.
The surging RedHawks raised their record to 11-16 overall and 6-8 in MAC play. Akron, meanwhile, dropped its third consecutive game to fall two games back of MAC East leader Kent State.
The RedHawks had trouble early getting to and converting at the foul line. It was a different story late, however, as MU scored 10 of its final 15 points from the stripe. In the process, Miami converted all of its last 10 attempts.
Point guard Eric Washington, who led all scorers with 21 points, withered the pressure in crunch time by hitting both ends of three bonus opportunities. The first two came with 15.2 seconds left and pulled Miami into a 48-all tie to ultimately force overtime.
Akron took the lead a final time with two free throws by Deji Ibitayo to open the extra period, but that proved to be UA’s final points of the night. Will Sullivan, answered with the second of two big treys late in the game and Washington added four points on bonus situations. Chris Bryant’s two charity tosses with six seconds left made it a two possession advantage and put the game away.
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Neither team shot the ball particularly well. The RedHawks finished at 36.8 percent (21-of-57) from the field and hit just 3-of-12 treys (25%). Akron made 19-of-59 (32.2%) from the field and 7-of-32 long balls (21.9%).
The Zips owned a doubled-digit advantage on the boards, grabbing 46 caroms to Miami’s 33. That included a 16-7 edge in offensive rebounds, which helped UA gain a 21-2 advantage on second chance points. Center Pat Forsythe, a 6-11 junior, led the Zips board work with 12 rebounds. Isaiah Johnson, a 6-10, 290-pounder who joined Forsythe in the starting lineup, also gave the RedHawks problems at times. He had six straight points in the second half as Akron pulled away from a 30-30 tie to establish a 38-30 lead.
Miami, which had just two field goals for over 10 minutes to open the second half, finally got the offense going – thanks in part to a defense which ultimately recorded 11 steals. Akron finished with 20 turnovers and Miami outscored UA 15-7 in points off turnovers.
Geovonie McKnight’s layup and steal that led to a Washington layup kicked off a 9-0 Miami run that put the RedHawks back in front, 39-38. Akron grabbed three more leads in regulation – two coming on triples from Robotham and Cheatham and the last via a Jake Kretzer steal and Antino Jackson layup with 29 ticks left.
Jackson was whistled for a foul on the ensuing possession, putting Washington at the line for a one-and-one opporutunity. He made both to create a 48-all tie. Cheatam’s three-point try with a second left would not fall.
Akron outscored by Miami's bench 17-0 in the second half and 35-6 overall, but MU tallied 9-of-11 total points in overtime for the win.
Joining Washington in double figures for Miami were Sullivan (11) and McKnight (10).
Akron, which got 17 total points from the starting five, was led by Cheatam’s 14. Robotham, a promising freshman guard who missed Wednesday’s game (illness), made 3-of-6 treys and totaled 10 points in 27 minutes against Miami. The Zips had just two players in double figures.
Akron built an early lead, thanks in part to Miami shooting woes. The RedHawks had just one field goal and trailed 11-2 before a Willie Moore layup at 11:30 of the first half.
The hosts were out front by a 17-6 count before Washington scored MU’s fourth field goal of the game at 7:11. Forsythe responded with a layup at the other end, but Miami finished the period with a 15-3 run to grab its first lead – a 23-22 advantage that it took into halftime.
Kent State at Miami (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
Akron at Buffalo (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)