CLEVELAND, OH -- Second-seeded Toledo advanced to quarterfinal play in the Mid-American Conference tournament Thursday, but the trip came with some late anxiety.
Miami's Nike Sibande missed a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds and UT held on for a 71-69 win at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Rockets led MU, a No. 7 seed, 30-29 at intermission and maintained a modest lead early in the second period. It was a 46-46 tie when UT went on a 10-0 run.
The MAC West champs played add-on over the next couple minutes and were up by a dozen (63-51) with 6:44 remaining.
Sophomore Willie Jackson's dunk at 4:17 made it a 65-54 UT lead, but that was UT's last field goal. Miami, meanwhile, ran off seven straight points. Dalonte Brown's triple from the corner pulled the RedHawks within four points (65-61).
With the RedHawks shooters -- especially Sibande warming up, free throws would prove critical down the stretch.
Nate Navigato hit two free throws with 1:24. and Sibande scored on a drive at the other end before Sanford took a deep three with the shot clock winding down. The miss was tapped out, however, and Toledo got the ball with a new shot clock.
Miami was forced to foul, sending Sanford to the free throw line, where he made both tries.
Sibande followed with a triple, pulling MU within three at 69-66. Nate Fletcher was fouled on Toledo's possession, but the senior made one of two.
Riding Sibande's hot hand, MU nearly bridged the four-point Rocket lead on one shot as Sibande drilled another three from the top of the key. He also went down on the play, but no foul was called.
Down 70-69, the RedHawks fouled Sanford with 9.2 seconds remaining. He missed the first try and made the second, giving MU a final chance to tie or (with a 3-point goal) win.
Sibande, who scored the RedHawks last eight points, drew plenty of defensive attention and was forced to put up his shot under significant pressure. Time expired as the carom bounced wide.
- Recently named MAC Freshman of the Year, Sibande led Miami with 20 points. He was 7 of 20 from the field and 4 of 12 on triple attempts. Ringo followed with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting. He made all four 3-point attempts, but was 1 of 4 at the line.
- The RedHawks have sometimes struggled at the stripe and are tied for last (with Eastern Michigan) with a 68.7 percent average. Toledo, meanwhile, is second among MAC teams in free throw percentage, hitting 73.6 percent.
- Miami made 8 of 15 (53.3%) Thursday against Toledo, which converted 13 of 17 (76.5%).
- Ten of Toledo's made free throws came from the duo of Sanford (4 of 5) and Fleetcher (6 of 7). Overall, they combined for 37 points -- 21 by Sanford and 16 from Fletcher, who also had nine rebounds. Luke Knapke, a 6-11 sophomore forward, registered 16 points and seven caroms.
- Toledo hit 27 of 62 (43.5%) overall and was just 4 of 23 (17.4%) on threes. Two of the triples came from Knapke.
- Miami connected on 26 of 66 (39.4%) from the field and was of 29 (31.0%) behind the arc.
- The RedHawks had a 42-35 edge in rebounds.
- Both teams took relatively good care of the ball, combining for 13 turnovers (7 by MU, 6 by UT).