Toledo Dominates Miami at Millett

By: Jack Mueller 

The Toledo Rockets walked into Millett Hall and dominated the RedHawks on Tuesday night, defeating Miami 97-63. Toledo has now won 22 straight matchups between the two teams, with Miami’s last win coming in 2011. 34 points is the RedHawks’ largest margin of defeat of the season, and their first 30 point loss since December against St. Bonaventure. 

“We’re using them as the blueprint, they’ve won three MAC championships in a row for a reason.” said Miami head coach Travis Steele. With the win, the Rockets put pressure on Akron in their battle to win the regular season MAC title. The two teams are now tied with a 13-4 record with one game remaining. 

Miami was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game. Toledo’s offense was dominant, connecting on 60% of their shots from the field and 52% from behind the arc. The Rockets’ defense was also stellar, holding the RedHawks to 32% from the floor and 25% from three. The RedHawks were outrebounded 44-27 and allowed Toledo to take 28 foul shots, of which they made 23.

“Guys can get dizzy and see different things when they get punched in the mouth, and we got punched in the mouth tonight.” said Steele

From the moment the game tipped off, Toledo was on the front foot. The Rockets jumped out to an immediate 11-0 lead and would not stop there. Before five minutes had passed, Miami was trailing 18-2. Eian Elmer did his best to invigorate the Miami offense, connecting on a three, then finishing a dunk at the rim to get the RedHawks to the ten-point mark. Another long Toledo run would give the Rockets a 30 point advantage with more than five minutes to play, as Dante Maddox Jr. connected from behind the arc. Maddox Jr. would lead all scorers at the half with 11. Coach Steele was adamant that his team needs to respond to adversity better as the season enters crunch time. 

“You gotta be tougher, at the end of the day it’s basketball,” said Steele. “They’re going to make some tough shots…but it’s how you respond”

After a demoralizing first half, Miami came out for the second half with some fight. Steele opted for a lineup of four freshmen and a sophomore, and for a brief period, momentum swung in the direction of the RedHawks. Steele said that he opted to go with this lineup looking for someone with “a pulse.”

“There weren’t a lot of positives tonight, but I thought our guys played better in the second half,” said Steele. 

 Mekhi Cooper and Eian Elmer provided an offensive spark to start the half that had been missing for the majority of the game. Despite the early pressure, Toledo was unfazed, and a three by Cochran with 12 minutes to go re-established the Rockets’ 33 point lead. Elmer and Cooper would end as the leading scorers for Miami, combining for 26 points. Bradley Dean also added eight of his own. Tyler Cochran was the offensive catalyst for Toledo. The junior would finish with 22 points on 77% shooting from the field, also knocking down three triples. 

Despite the deficit, the RedHawks kept their energy up. Reece Potter connected on back to back mid-range jumpers to give the RedHawks some life, but consecutive baskets by Maddox Jr. and Ben Wight would once again keep the RedHawks from mounting any sort of resistance. Toledo would not let off the gas down the stretch, as Xavier Thomas and Marko Maletic combined for 14 points on 100% shooting off the bench. 

Coach Steele emphasized the importance of winning each four minute period between timeouts. In those four minute battles against Toledo, Miami went 0-5 in the first half, but recovered in the second to win three periods. Steele said that while there weren’t many positives to take away, he can use this game as a learning experience for his team. 

“We’ll watch film of this, we’ll own it, then we’ll learn from it, then we’ll flush it.” said Steele. They’ll have to learn fast though, as the rival Ohio Bobcats travel to Oxford on Friday to end the regular season with a “Battle of the Bricks” at Millett Hall. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published