Miami Defeats EMU, Improves to 2-2 in MAC Play
By: Jack Mueller
The Miami RedHawks defended their home court against the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Saturday, walking away victorious after a 71-54 win. Miami’s defense was the deciding factor, holding their opponents to just 31% from the field and 20% from behind the arc.
Freshman Eian Elmer was the star of the show for the RedHawks on both sides of the ball. The 6’7 wing set a career high with 23 points, showcasing his ability to score on all three levels, and added two blocks on the other end. Elmer was also a force on the glass, pulling down six rebounds.
“The coaches have been putting a lot of trust in me, and I’ve had more confidence in myself” said Elmer after his career night. “The performance comes with confidence.”
Elmer was not the only RedHawk making big plays, as Bryce Bultman continued his impressive run of form with a 14 point, eight rebound and six assist performance. The veteran wing was the RedHawks first scoring option for most of the first half, showing his ability to hit tough shots inside and step out and connect from behind the arc.
“Bultman controlled the game in a lot of ways.” said Miami’s Head Coach Travis Steele. The elder statesmen of this team, Bultman and Darweshi Hunter, were also called upon to lead the team defensively, with Hunter tasked with shutting down the MAC’s leading scorer Tyson Acuff. For the first 30 minutes of the game, Hunter did just that, but a nasty collision knocked Hunter out for the rest of the game.
“I was worried.” said Steele “Darweshi did a great job on Acuff before he went down. We challenged our guys, we said who is going to step up?”
The freshman duo of Evan Ipsaro and Mekhi Cooper would be the ones to answer the call, keeping him at bay on the perimeter. Cooper was especially impressive, picking up two steals and pulling down four boards. The freshman guard added nine points and four assists on the other end too. Coach Steele also praised the effort of his bigs in taking away the pick and roll. Acuff was still able to register 19 points in the loss, but was unable to truly take over the game like he has done at times this season for EMU.
Miami put together one of their best defensive performances of the season in the first half, holding Eastern Michigan to just 29% from the floor in the entire period. The RedHawks led by as many as 13, before the Eagles started to establish a rhythm, going on a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the period. EMU had a chance to make it a one-possession game with a fastbreak in the final minute, but a monster chasedown block by Eian Elmer preserved Miami’s five point lead at the break.
“Big plays call my name, and I just try and go make them” said Elmer.
Miami led for nearly the entire game (39 minutes of the 40), but EMU was able to claw back from double digit deficits on multiple occasions. After a jumper by Yusuf Jihad pulled Eastern Michigan level, the RedHawks responded by going on a 10-0 run propelled by threes by Elmer and Anderson Mirambeaux. Miami would end the game on a 26-9 run, quashing any chance at a comeback. Coach Steele said that while the second half response was better, there is still room for improvement.
“For our team to grow we have to be able to put forty minutes together,” said Steele.
Miami will need to rest and recover quickly, as Bowling Green travels to Oxford to take on the RedHawks on Tuesday. The 11-4 Falcons have been off to a strong start, but run into a Miami team high on confidence after two straight convincing MAC wins.