Miami loses Conference Opener to WMU

By: Jack Mueller

The Miami RedHawks dropped their conference opener to Western Michigan, losing 83-74 at Millett Hall on Tuesday night. Anderson Mirambeaux’s season high 20 points was not enough for Miami, who were unable to overcome an experienced WMU team. 

“They had more life than us… they were tougher, they were more together.” said head coach Travis Steele following the loss, adding: “We did not handle adversity well tonight.” 

Miami was short handed for the vast majority of the game, losing Jaquel Morris, Bradley Dean, and Jackson Kotecki to injuries in the first half. None of the trio was on the floor for more than five minutes before having to depart. The absence of Morris and Kotecki in the paint undoubtedly had an impact. Western Michigan was dominant on the offensive glass, out rebounding the RedHawks by 13 and registering 20 second chance points. In the second half, it seemed like every shot WMU missed would result in an offensive rebound or a foul on a Miami player. 

“We have to clean up the defensive glass … we have to be legal when we block out.” said Steele postgame. Miami’s rebounding has been an “achilles heel”, as has their free throw shooting, which was also a factor in the loss. The home side shot just 60% from the line on 35 attempts, while the Broncos shot just a tick over 70%. 

“It’s been a major concern all season, I tell our guys we leave so many points on the free throw line,” said Steele. Miami is making 68% of their free throws this year, which ranks 257th in the NCAA. 

Miami went into the second half trailing by just three, led by an 11 point first period by sophomore sharpshooter Ryan Mabrey. But a 7-0 run right after the game resumed set the tone for a second half that saw Miami’s inexperience in conference play show. A dunk by Anthony Crump and a barrage of free throws by Javaughn Hannah stretched the Western Michigan lead to ten before Miami could respond. Two threes by Anderson Mirambeaux and bac to back buckets by Bryce Bultman got Miami within five, but that would be as close as they would get. 

Western Michigan was led by a trio of offensive weapons that will be fun to watch in the MAC this season. Sophomore guard Seth Hubbard led the Broncos in scoring with 17, closely followed by his backcourt mate, junior B. Artis White who had 16. Texas A&M transfer Javonte Brown was stellar on both ends of the floor. The sophomore center missed just one shot all night, putting up 12, and also added five rebounds and three blocks. Western Michigan started the year with a tough run in non-conference, but will be a team to keep an eye on in the MAC in the coming weeks. 

Despite Mirambeaux’s impressive performance, his usual co-stars were kept at bay. Darweshi Hunter managed just ten points on 2-7 from the field, but was the only RedHawk to go 100% from the charity stripe. Evan Ipsaro was dealing with a slight injury, yet still managed to set his season high in assists with seven, adding seven points as well. 

Bryce Bultman put together a solid offensive performance with 15 points, his most since November 17th against Coppin State. Bultman was a major reason why Miami was able to keep fighting throughout the second half, as his physicality and ability to get to the basket gave the Broncos trouble. Reece Potter continued to show flashes of his potential, stepping out behind the arc to lace a three, and adding a smooth jumper from the elbow as well. Both Potter and Bultman have been inconsistent on offense so far, but they provide two solid weapons for the RedHawks outside of the usual suspects.  

MAC play will continue for the RedHawks on Friday, as they travel north to face Toledo at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. 

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