Miami owned a 12-point lead, 52-40, following a Geovonie McKnight basket with 9:03 remaining in the second half. The RedHawks, however, would not score another field goal in regulation and managed just one field goal in overtime. Three tries inside the final 5.3 seconds missed the mark, culminating the late offensive struggles and cementing MU’s fate.
After connecting on 54.2 percent from the field in the first stanza, Miami dropped to 29.6 percent the rest of the way.
Miami finishes the year at 13-19 overall, 8-10 MAC. Eastern Michigan upped its record to 20-12, 8-10 MAC. The Eagles advance to second round action and will meet Bowling Green Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena.
Lee paced Eastern Michigan with 19 points before fouling out early in overtime. He connected on 7-of-15 from the field and 2-of-6 beyond the arc. EMU made just 4-of-19 tries from distance on the night, but none was bigger than Lee’s shot to tie the game at 54-all, leading to overtime.
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Joining Lee in double figures for EMU were Anali Okoloji (11) and Mike Talley (10).
The Eagles hit 24-of-60 (40%) shots from the field overall and were 10-of-17 at the line.
Willie Moore led Miami with 17 points, hitting 4-of-5 shots, including 3-of-3 on trey attempts. He netted 6-of-7 at the foul line. Freshmen Zach McCormick (12) and Logan McLane (10) also reached double figures.
The two teams stayed relatively close prior to intermission. Thanks to a Moore trey to close first half scoring, Miami took a 33-29 lead to the locker room.
Two Eagle baskets to start the second half gave the hosts a brief lead, 34-33. Miami then outscored EMU 19-6 to grab a commanding 52-40 lead following McKnight’s basket at 9:03.
With Miami scoring just two points – both on free throws – during the remaining time in regulation, Eastern was able to chip away the rest of the way. Lee provided 12 points during the stretch, including his three to tie.
Miami missed a jumper at the other end, but did get out to an early lead in OT on two McLane charity tosses.
Okoloji and Talley hit layups for EMU before Moore canned three free throws after getting fouled on a trey attempt.
Okoloji and McLane traded layups before Nazione scored on a putback to leave the Eagles in front, 62-61. Miami’s inability to covert at the other end sealed the EMU win.
“We had our opportunities. We just couldn’t finish it,” Cooper said.