OXFORD, Ohio – When an opponent shoots 54 percent from the field and has a 7’6” player to hold down the center spot, you need to find a way to play “outside the box.” That’s especially true when you only shoot 35.9 percent from the field.
The Miami RedHawks found one way to win Saturday afternoon at Millett Hall as they erased a 13-point second half deficit to pull out a 64-63 victory over Central Florida.
The key ingredient was turnovers. Miami registered 12 steals and forced a whopping 22 turnovers – 14 in the second half. Overall, it led to a 24-12 advantage in points off turnovers. In addition, MU capitalized on 11 of 13 free throws compared to 6 of 8 for the visitors.
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Joining Washington in double figures for MU were Geovonie McKnight and Willie Moore – each with 13 points. McKnight and Washington – both guards, led the RedHawks in rebounds with seven and six, respectively.
Miami was out-rebounded 36-30 overall, but the RedHawks had a 17-10 advantage in offensive rebounds. Miami coach John Cooper noted that while his team really wasn’t able to get immediate stick-backs off the caroms due to the Knights’ height and athleticism, his Redhawks were still able to get points on a number of occasions. Indeed, MU owned an 18-8 advantage in second chance points.
The RedHawks, of course, were aware that Central Florida’s starting lineup included 7-foot, 6-inch Tacko Fall. It didn’t take long for Miami to verify Fall would be a factor. He registered a block within the first two minutes and quickly persuaded several RedHawks driving to the hoop to take another route.
Miami narrowed the gap to three at 31-28 with 2:15 remaining, but UCF tallied the final five points before intermission for a 36-28 advantage.
Fall started the second half and added two dunks, while A.J. Davis and Shaheed Davis followed with layups as UCF outscored Miami 8-3 coming out of the break. That gave the Knights their largest lead of the game – 13 points at 44-31 with 16:59 remaining.
Miami then began to chip away, eventually outscoring UCf 15-6 to pull within four at 50-46 following a three-ball by Moore. A steal by Washington, who had a career-high six on the day, resulted in a layup that drew Miami within 53-51.
McKnight missed a jumper, but came away with the rebound. When Fall blocked a Miami shot, Washington picked off another offensive rebound. The ball ended up with sophomore guard Abdoulaye Harouna, who drained a three at 3:00 to give MU its first lead of the entire game, 62-59.
Fall canned one of two free throws at the other end, Miami then missed two shots from the floor and a free throw before UCF got the ball to its big man down low. Fall was fouled but made the layup and a free throw to give the visitors a 63-62 edge with 38 seconds remaining.
Washington came through with a jumper on Miami’s next trip, leaving the Knights with 23 seconds left. The ball eventually went into the corner for a final shot, which bounced off the rim
Miami, which absorbed a disappointing 57-53 loss to IPFW Tuesday, bounced back to raise its record to 4-3 on the campaign. UCF fell to 1-3.