It took Miami nearly six minutes to register its first field goal in the contest, but the visiting Raiders weren’t exactly burning the nets themselves. Wright State led 7-1 when Zach McCormick finally hit a jumper.
After WSU ran off six quick points, the sophomore . . .
"I don't know if any coach likes their team the first game coming out of exam week," Miami head coach John Cooper said. "I don't know if it's necessarily the exams, but your schedule is so changed up during exam week. I think a lot of times, athletes are creatures of habit."
"I thought once we got the cobwebs out, we started playing better, but I am glad exams are over"
Miami spent much of the next eight minutes chipping away and managed to grab the lead, 27-26 on a dunk by Chris Bryant 4:04. Michael Karena hit a bucket at the other, but Willie Moore nailed a trey and Logan McLane tallied on a layup to give MU a 32-28 advantage.
Wright State ran off six points for a two point edge before Bryant canned two free throws with three seconds remaining to make it 34-all at the break.
JT Yoho did most of the damage for the visitors, scoring 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first 20 minutes. He was 4 of 6 from the field, including 3 of 3 from behind the arc, and hit 1 of 2 free throws in first half action.. Eric Washington and McLane led Miami with six points apiece.
"Logan McLane really played well and stepped up for us today," Cooper said.
Miami, which missed five of its first six shots finished the period connecting on just 10 of 30 (33.3%) from the field and 3 of 13 (23.1 %) from distance. Wright State, on the other hand, hit on 45.8 percent (11 of 24) of its shots from the field and 6 of 11 treys.
"If I just gave you the first half stats ... (and then told you) the score woudl be tied at halftime, I would tell you that's crazy," WSU head coach Billy Donlon said. "I thought our guys did a really good job of doing some things in the first half, but credit Miami -- they found a way to get back in the game.
Miami’s field goal percentage improved substantially over the final 20 minutes as the RedHawks connected on 57.1 percent from the field. The Raiders dropped to 37.1 percent. However, WSU nonetheless had one more field goal (including two more treys) in the period. A 12 of 15 performance by MU at the line, contrasting 3 of 6 by Wright State in the second period, was pivotal.
Miami opened the second half with five straight points on a basket by McKnight, who scored 12 of his 13 game points after the break, and a trey by McLane. Wright State then battled back to grab a 42-41 lead.
There were four lead changes and two ties before Miami secured the upper hand for good. McKnight’s layup at 9:30 gave MU a 51-50 lead. Another McKnight layup at 4:49 provided MU with its biggest lead, 63-54.
Benzinger, who scored nine of his 15 game points after intermission, hit a trey with 2:25 left, reducing Wright State’s deficit to four at 65-61. That, however, was as close as the Raiders would get. Miami made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Raiders. Two WSU players fouled out late.
""We've been fouling a lot (lately) and I think tonight we played as much zone as we've played all year," Donlon said. "At the end of the day, we lost because they are older, veteran players. They're physical players. They just out-toughed us on drives."
"(We've been) talking about getting to the foul line anywhere between 26-30 times a game," Cooper said. "Typically, when we get there, we're a pretty decent free throw shooting team. Conversely, we didn't put them there too many times."
Miami, which outscored Wright State 39-22 off the bench, put four players in double figures. McKnight, Eric Washington and Willie Moore all had 13 points. McLane tallied 11 points and registered a team-high seven rebounds.
Joining Yoho (17) in double figures for Wright State were Benzinger (15) and Mark Hughes (13).
Miami returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts Jackson State (7 p.m.).