OXFORD, Ohio – It wasn’t like Wednesday’s Mid-American Conference tilt between the Miami RedHawks and Western Michigan Broncos was a turnover-fest. Still, turnovers proved to be part of the key in a 69-58 Western Michigan win at Millett Hall.
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While MU committed 10 turnovers (five per half), the Broncos totaled three for the game and one during a second half in which they outscored the hosts 48-35. Western Michigan had a 6-5 edge in points off turnovers after one period and trailed 23-21 at the break. By the end, WMU had a 16-6 points off turnovers advantage.
Also, as Miami coach John Cooper noted, several of the RedHawks turnovers came at "inopportune" times in the second half. Miami also struggled to hit shots late, connecting on two of its final 10 as WMU pulled away.
It was not a particularly good shooting night for either team. Western Michigan connected on 35 percent (21-of-60) of its shots for the game, while Miami (6-12, 1-4 MAC) was good on 35.2 percent (19-of-54).
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In registering its fourth straight win, Western Michigan (13-5, 4-1 MAC), had four players – all starters -- in double figures. Connar Tava registered nine points, but just missed out on a double-double by pulling down 10 rebounds.
Austin Richie led the way for WMU with 16 points. He was 5-of-14 from the field, but nailed 4-of-8 treys and helped the Broncos put away Miami. Tucker Haymond contributed 15 points and was 8-of-10 at the free throw line. Center Lamont Drake and guard David Brown each chipped in 10 points. The latter had scored 55 points over his previous two outings, but he was just 4-of-13 from the field and 1-of-7 from distance against Miami.
"We made sure we were going to ... be aware of where ever he was on the floor," Miami guard Eric Washington said. "It's unfortunate we didn't take advantage, because he didn't have a great shooting night."
"They didn't shoot the ball great, but they've got enough guys to give you production," Cooper said while noting the contributions of WMU's starting five.
Center L.J. Livingston led the RedHawks with 12 points, followed by Jaryd Eustace with 11 and Washington at 10.
With WMU struggling from the field in the first period, Miami gradually worked its way to a nine-point lead (17-8) with 10:18 remaining before intermission. Western Michigan, however, then went on a 10-0 run to take a brief lead. Richie contributed two treys, while Drake provided the other four points in the flurry.
The low-scoring first half was tied at 21-all with 3:00 remaining, but Geovonie McKnight’s jumper with 12 seconds remaining were the only points by either team before the break.
Miami’s last lead of the contest came at 17:45 following a three by Will Sullivan for a 28-27 MU advantage. The eighth and final tie of the night (35-35) was at 13:57 when Washington netted two free throws.
A 10-2 Bronco run followed, giving the visitors a 45-38 lead at 10:49. Miami then chipped way, pulling within a pair (48-46) on a pair of Eustace charity tosses at 7:57.
Eight straight points, provided by four different Western players allowed the Broncos to establish their first double digit lead of the evening at 56-46. While Miami was able to cut it in half (56-51) with 3:53 remaining, that was as close as the RedHawks could get. Richie hit a three and WMU closed the victory out by making 10-of-11 at the line.
"For the most part, I think we did a good job in the first half," Washington said. "I wish we just could have stayed more to the (scouting report) in the second half. We probably would have given ourself a better chance."
"At the end of the day, you've got to take your hat off to them," Cooper said. "They just stretch you in so many areas."
Western Michigan will host Akron Saturday (2 p.m. ET), while Miami hits the road again for a matchup at Northern Illinois (4 p.m. ET).