KALAMAZOO, Mich -- Defense and free throws were staples for the Miami RedHawks Friday night as they posted their first road victory of the season with a 45-44 decision over Western Michigan at University Arena. It was Miami’s first victory against the Broncos after six straight defeats.
Sophomore Rod Mills broke a 44-all tie by making the first of two free throws with eight seconds left. WMU grabbed the rebound but was unable to score on a driving shot from the lane in the final seconds.
Miami, which lost its first seven conference outings during a 10-game losing streak, has now . . .
Mills toss was his only point of a low scoring contest. Only three players – two from Miami -- reached double figures. Senior guard Geovonie McKnight led all scorers with 15 points, while point guard Eric Washington added 13. The pair combined for MU’s last 10 points before Mills’ decisive shot.
Sophomore Thomas Wilder, who had scored 20 or more points in each of his last three games, paced Western Michigan with 13 points. Ten of those came after intermission as the Broncos battled back from a 24-18 halftime deficit.
Both teams struggled with shooting and registered six field goals apiece in the opening period. Miami was 6-for-18 (33.3 percent) and 2-of-10 on threes (20%). WMU connected on 6-of-21 (28.6%) from the field overall and was 2-of-12 (16.7%) on treys. Miami’s six-point halftime advantage came at the free throw line. MU went 10-of-12 at the stripe, while the Broncos canned 4-of-7.
Miami did not score a field goal in the second half until a McKnight jumper at 12:10. The next MU field goal was at 6:18 when the senior scored on a tough baseline jumper. He also scored at 4:35 in the lane, making him the only Miami player to score any field goals after intermission until Washington tallied from the lane at 3:48.
Western Michigan fouls, however, piled up early and the RedHawks used free throws to fend off the hosts. WMU pulled even five different times after intermission, but it never got the lead.
-- Western Michigan committed nine turnovers to 15 by Miami.
-- Miami edged the hosts 32-30 on the boards, although WMU registered nine offensive rebounds to just five for the visitors.
-- Miami hit 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the field, 13.3 percent (2-of-15) from beyond the arc and 21-of-28 at the line.
-- Western Michigan connected on 31.1 percent from the floor, 21.7 percent (5-of-23) on threes and 61.1 percent (11-of-18) at the stripe.
Western Michigan is at Bowling Green (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
Miami travels to Toledo (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)