Evansville Recap: Miami drops to 0-1 on Opening Night
By: Jack Mueller
It was too close to call for the first 35 minutes of the matchup between the Miami Redhawks and the Evansville Aces, but down the stretch, the home team made fewer mistakes and hit clutch shot after clutch shot to snatch victory away from the Redhawks.
The youth and inexperience on both sides was a key theme coming into the game, with both rosters riddled with freshmen (7 for Miami, 8 for Evansville), but in the end it was experience that made the difference. Evansville senior Ben Humrichous was nothing short of dominant down the stretch for the Aces, making three consecutive triples to push the score out of reach for Miami. Humrichous would end the night with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and a clutch block on Bradley Dean late in the second half.
Miami played well given this was the first competitive action this new group has seen, however they just made too many mistakes that Evansville capitalized on. The Redhawks committed 20 turnovers, which the Aces turned into 18 points on the other end, but the real killer was the charity stripe. Evansville made 21 free throws compared to Miami’s four, a 17 point swing in the foul game.
Despite the errors, there were positives to take into the coming weeks. Graduate NIU transfer Darweshi Hunter was lights out from beyond the arc, making 75% of his threes and finishing the game with 21 points, leading the Redhawks. Jackson Kotecki started his Miami career perfect from the field, finishing with eight points on four easy looks around the rim. The two returners, Ryan Mabrey and Jaquel Morris, were quietly solid on offense, adding ten and eight points respectively on a combined 47% shooting percentage.
Behind Hunter’s scoring, the Redhawks jumped out to a 29-23 lead in the first half, catapulted by a 7-0 run with just under five minutes to go until the break, but Evansville found a way back behind good team defense and buckets by Yacine Tuomi and Australian freshman Josh Hughes. After the half, Miami came out firing, back to back threes by Bradley Dean and Hunter stretched the lead to seven, before the Aces once again came storming back behind the play of Evansville trio: Tuomi, Hughes and Humrichous. A deep three by Humrichous gave the Aces a lead they would never relinquish, as the senior forward hit shot after shot to keep the Aces out of reach.
Throughout the game, it showed that some of the new faces need some more time to get acclimated. Bradley Dean was uncharacteristically held to three points on only three shots, and Bryce Bultman was limited to just six points on 25% shooting. Bultman was effective as a rebounder, snagging six boards, but it was freshman Eian Elmer who led the team in rebounds, bringing down seven in only six minutes.
Despite their struggles, Coach Steele showed faith in his freshmen, playing them in 33% of the minutes. Evan Ipsaro and Mekhi Cooper were given 20 minutes each, often in key spots when the Redhawks were in dire need of a bucket. While they were unsuccessful in inspiring a turnaround, it's encouraging to see that this coaching staff is willing to let the young guys learn through experience, as it will pay dividends down the road this season.
The Redhawks will have four days to make adjustments and recover before returning to the court at Millett Hall to kick off their home campaign against Texas State on November 11th.