The RedHawks, who dropped their first seven conference games, now own the MAC’s longest active win streak. A win on senior night in the regular season finale against rival Ohio on Friday would give Miami (6-11 MAC, 12-18 overall) wins against every MAC East foe after those teams all beat MU in the first meeting.
"It was a bad loss for us . . .
Buffalo (9-8 MAC, 16-14 overall) had the hot hand early, hitting three treys and swarming the boards to take a 9-0 lead at the 16:53 mark. By the final horn, Buffalo would shoot a season-high 31 threes, accounting for half its shots from the field.
McKnight, who led all scorers with 21 points, finally got MU on the board with a free throw at 15:39. Kalif Wright followed with a basket in the lane at 15:12 and the visitors began to work their way back.
Buffalo maintained a lead, but it could not shake the RedHawks, who trailed 29-26 at the break thanks to improved rebounding and shooting.
Both teams claimed 21 rebounds and each had six turnovers. Buffalo made 11-of-31 (35.5%) from the field, including 6-of-14 on treys. Miami hit 10-of-29 (34.4%) from the floor overall and 4-of-13 on threes.
Buffalo actually shot 35.5% from the field again in the second half, but the RedHawks turned it up, making 15-of-29 for 51.7 percent after the break. Moreover, they reduced their turnovers to just two in the final stanza.
After Miami pulled even at 34-all on a Washington three at 16:26, Buffalo went on a 7-0 run.
Miami again chipped away, catching and eventually passing the hosts with a 15-4 run that put the RedHawks out front, 49-45. While Buffalo was able to tie the score once more (55-55), it never could reclaim the lead.
"We just sort of hung in there," Miami head coach John Cooper said. "We never let them just get going. ... I don't know if they ever got into a great rhythm."
Sophomore Rod Mills scored his only points of the game on a three to break the final tie. Washington followed with a spinning drive into the lane to score, and Chris Bryant tallied with a layup off a dish from Washington to put Miami up by seven.
Both teams struggled at the foul line (MU 10-of-19, 52.6%; UB 5-of-12, 41.7%). However, the RedHawks were able to 5-of-9 in the final minute to salt the game away.
In addition to McKnight’s game-high 21, Washington reached double figures with 17 points. He also registered seven assists and just two turnovers in 37 minutes. Bryant and Wade chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.
“We’ve got enough guys … now that are able to come in and give us some production,” Cooper said of contributions during the current winning streak.
Blake Hamilton posted a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bulls. Jarryn Skeete tallied 11 points, although it came on 3-of-12 from the field. Junior forward Willie Conner added 10 points.