The Miami RedHawks came within a whisker of providing themselves with a special Christmas present Tuesday as they took area rival Dayton to the wire before falling, 64-63, at UD Arena.
Miami led by a single point and missed a several chances during a flurry of action that included two offensive rebounds by the RedHawks. Charles Cook finally pulled down a defensive rebound for the Flyers who got it to Kyle Davis. The 6-0 junior got his shot off under pressure with 2-1 seconds left and it fell.
"I thought G (Geovonie McKnight) guarded it as good as . . .
Davis and Cooke were two of the three Flyers to reach double figures. Cooke, a 6-5 junior averaging 14.4 ppg, led all scorers with 21 points and also had nine rebounds - just missing a double double. He made 8 of 16 shots overall and connected on 4 of 7 from behind the arc. Davis owned 12 points and center Steve McElvene chipped 10 points with nine boards.
Miami also put three players in double figures. Point guard Eric Washington paced the RedHawks with 15 points, followed by McKnight (12) and Harouna (11).
Davis' winning bucket allowed Dayton to raise its season record to 9-2, while Miami fell to 6-6 with one non-conference game left before MAC play. The RedHawks record and scores, Cooper noted, point to a team that is "good enough to compete with anyone, and ... also able to lose to anyone."
Among the three area rivals on its schedule, Miami managed one win -- a 72-67 victory over Wright State. But the other two seemed to bring out some of the best in Miami. In addition to losing to Dayton by one on a late bucket, the RedHawks opened 2015 by hanging tough against a Xavier team that is undefeated and ranked sixth nationally. MU ultimately lost that game, 81-72 on the road.
Miami and Dayton battled on relatively even terms througout the first half. The visiting RedHawk went up 25-21 on Abdoulaye Harouna's dunk with 2:56 remaining, but Darrell Davi's second of back-to-back threes tied the contest at 29-all. Forward Logan McLane's bucket with 21 seconds left put MU back in front and Kyle Davis missed his jumper at the other end. He would not miss when given another chance before the game's final buzzer.
As they did in a road loss at Tennessee Tech last Friday, the RedHawks struggled to score coming out of the locker room. Dayton capitalized, putting together a 12-2 run to go up 41-33 at the 17:02 mark.
It was an 11-point (52-41) Flyer advantage midway through the period before Miami began to chip away. Mills got a 15-4 RedHawks run started with a 3-point goal and Harouna ended it with a layup to tie things at 56-all. In between, McKnight contributed eight points and Chris Bryant tallied on a tip-in.
Cooke nailed a pair of 3-point shots on successive possessions to restore a Dayton lead. Miami, however, again fought back before the noisy Flyer crowd of over 13,000. LJ Livington scored on a dunk and Washington hit a triple. When Harouna came up with a steal and converted it into a layup, Miami owned a 63-62 lead with 1:35 left. It remained that way until Kyle Davis hit his game-winner with 2.1 seconds left.
"I thought early in the game we were too amped up," Cooper said. "We cut the turnovers down (to three in the second half). Now we give ourselves a chance to win."
Miami is off until Saturday, Jan. 2 when it hosts South Carolina State (3:30 p.m.). That will be the RedHawks last non-conference game. They open MAC play Wednesday, Jan. 6 at Bowling Green (7 p.m.)
>> Miami connected on 26 of 56 (46.4%) from the floor on the evening and hit 6 of 13 treys (46.2%). Generally a team that likes to get to the line, Miami had just seven opportunities at the stripe and made five.
>> Dayton was good on 23 of 48 (47.9%) overall and 9 of 22 (40.9%) from distance. The Flyers hit 9 of 16 free throw tosses.
>> Miami owned the edge in points off turnovers (14-13), points in the paint (32-26), fast break points (12-6) and bench points (24-10). Miami also had a 32-29 overall advantage in rebounds.
>> Dayton edged Miami on second chance points (11-9), blocks (7-2).