OXFORD, Ohio -- Sophomore Nike Sibande scored 25 points as the Miami RedHawks knocked off Bowling Green 67-53 Saturday at Millett Hall.
The RedHawks’ third straight Mid-American Conference victory gave BGSU (14-6, 6-1 MAC) its first conference loss and ended a 10-game Falcons winning streak that stretched back to early December.
"It's hard when you get on a 10-game winning streak to sustain that intensity that you have to play with,” Bowling Green head coach Michael Huger said. “We are taking team's best shots. We took Miami's best shot tonight, and they were able to come up with the victory."
Bowling Green entered the weekend leading the nation in rebounding with an average of 44 caroms per contest. However, the Falcons were limited to 33, while Miami (11-8, 3-4 MAC) pulled down 38 rebounds. MU also edged the visitors in second-chance points, 11-7, after holding Bowling Green to seven offensive boards.
"We tried to limit their second chances," 6-8 senior forward Aleks Abrams said, adding, "We knew it was going to be a good test for us, and that is what we're looking for. We want the challenges. We're not shying away from anyone."
The Falcons scored first, but Demajeo Wiggins’ basket was BG’s only lead of the game - and it lasted just 47 seconds. Dalonte Brown answered with a layup and Sibande followed with a dunk to put the RedHawks in front. They would hold a lead for nearly 36 minutes over the remaining time.
Neither team shot all that well in the first half as defenses kept a steady pressure. Miami hit 8-of-24 (33.3%) from the field, while BG connected on 10-of-30 (33.3%). While BG was just 1-of-5 on threes, the hosts made 3-of 12 from distance and had one more made free throw.
"It was probably our best defensive game of the year," Miami head coach Jack Owens said. "Obviously, holding them to 19 points in the first half (was big, but) you knew they were going to come out in the second half and compete."
A key point in the second half came just after Justin Turner’s jumper moved the Falcons within one (30-29) at 14:29. Miami got bottled up at the other end late in the shot clock but managed to get off a desperate pass to Sibande on the other side of the floor. With no time to spare, he launched a three that not only found its target, but also kicked off a 9-0 Miami run.
"I was definitely aware of (the clock) and was just trying to shoot a comfortable shot," Sibande said.
Up 39-29, the RedHawks lead never fell below seven points after that and was more often in double digits. Miami’s final 13 points came at the free throw line as Sibande and Darrian Ringo combined to sink 13-of-15 charity tosses.
Bowling Green, which is averaging 78.3 ppg, managed just 53 against the RedHawks and had just two players in double figures. Justin Turner (the MAC’s No. 3 scorer at 18.9 ppg) paced BG with 12 points. Antwon Lillard netted 10, while Wiggins recorded a game-high 10 rebounds.
"Bowling Green is an explosive team. They can score points in bunches," said Owens, who expected his own team to meet the challenge. "The guys are competing in practice and we're having a carry-over (to the games). ... They are following their assignments and having some success right now."
>> Both teams will face stiff tests in their next outings. Miami hosts Toledo Tuesday. It's their second meeting, with UT owning a 71-59 victory in the first encounter. Bowling Green is off Tuesday, but hosts Buffalo Friday in a nationally televised game.
>> As a team, MU knocked down 16-of-23 free throws on the day, while Bowling Green made 5-of-7.
>> Miami shot 40.7 percent overall and was 6-of-19 (31.8%) on threes. Bowling Green finished at 36.5 percent from the floor (19-of-52) and upped its 3-point shooting to 45.5 % (10-of-22) after hitting 9-of-17 from distance after intermission.
>> The Falcons made 10 3-point goals, 9 two-point buckets and five free throws.