A disappointing two weeks
Although the RedHawks had a chance at a nice stretch run beginning February 1, things didn’t turn out as the Miami faithful hoped.
In Mount Pleasant to face the Chippewas on the 1st, the RedHawks put together an excellent 35 minutes of basketball, but never quite gathered enough momentum to get over the hump. What started as a 62-60 CMU lead with 4:16 left in the game ballooned to eight points a minute later, as fatigue took a toll on Miami. Despite a fantastic 23-point, 9-board outing from Cindi Merrill, Miami fell 80-67, with the Chips hitting their free throws down the stretch to ensure that the RedHawks wouldn’t close the gap.
Miami then began a brief, two-game homestand on the 4th, hosting Northern Illinois. Miami surged to an early 8-4 lead, but the Huskies went on a 16-0 run to force a timeout. Maria Fantanarosa calmed the team down, and Miami’s defense was the story for the rest of the half, as the RedHawks put together a 14-4 run to trail by two at halftime. Defense was the story in the second half as well, with both teams putting together runs and shutting down the opposition. With under a minute left, the score was 49-49, but NIU’s Mary Basic stole the spotlight with the winning jumper when eight seconds remained. Unsurprisingly, in a defensive-minded game, the RedHawks’ standout performance wasn’t found in the points column--Amber Miller had a great evening with six blocks and nine rebounds.
The RedHawks then played host to the Broncos on the 8th, and once again, Miami came away on the losing end. In an up-tempo first half, Miami went shot-for-shot with WMU before succumbing to a long scoring drought to end the half. The RedHawks trailed 42-29 at the break. In the second half, Miami stepped up the defensive intensity, cutting the Broncos’ lead to six, but timely threes and offensive rebounds from WMU kept the game out of Miami’s reach. The RedHawks ended up falling by a score of 70-60. With 11 points and 5 boards in just 22 minutes, Cindi Merrill was once again the player of the game.
The losing streak extended to five games with a big loss on the road at MAC West leaders Eastern Michigan. At the half, the RedHawks trailed 44-21. The Eagles were simply overwhelming, shooting 58.6% and scoring 19 points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Things only got worse in the second half, as EMU opened on a gigantic run to take a 43-point lead by the ten-minute mark. Miami closed the game on a high note, going on a run to make the final gap 23 points at 78-55. The RedHawks avoided their first 30-point MAC loss since 2000 thanks in large part to freshman Stephanie Ford, who scored eight straight points to go with two steals and an assist in the game’s closing minutes.
Next up for the RedHawks: at UB tomorrow in a battle for home court in the first round of the MAC tournament.
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