Megan Duffy’s college friends promised her that they’d see her Miami women’s basketball team “sometime this season.”
“Sometime” turned out to be Friday’s game against Detroit Mercy at Millett Hall — Duffy’s debut as the RedHawks’ coach.
“They tricked me,” Duffy said. “Five of my closest girlfriends flew in. It was great to see them.”
They saw Miami rush to a 91-64 win over the Titans on “Class at the Court” Day, when more than a thousand students from three Talawanda School District elementary schools — Bogan, Kramer and Marshall — were on hand, creating a tipoff-to-buzzer cacophony.
Sophomore guard Lauren Dickerson picked up this season where she left off last season, when she was named the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year. The 5-foot-3 Dickerson led both teams with 26 points and eight assists while committing one turnover against a Detroit Mercy team that went 18-14 last season and lost to Green Bay by 12 points in the Horizon League tournament championship game .
Sophomore forward Savanna Kluesner finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Kayla Brown added 10 points for the RedHawks, who scored as many as 91 points in regulation for the first time since a 91-80 win against Cleveland State in 2013. The margin of victory was the widest since a 73-39 win over Kent State on Feb. 28, 2013.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Duffy said. “The first few minutes, I think we forgot the game plan. It took us a few minutes to get settled in. Our game plan was to guard the 3-point line. We were willing to give up layups, and we gave up a lot of layups.”
The Titans finished 3-of-13 on 3-pointers. Miami was 7-of-20, including Dickerson’s 4-of-8.
Miami (1-0) piled up a whopping 54-38 rebound advantage, including 22 offensive rebounds that helped the RedHawks build a 25-9 advantage in second-chance points. Miami also committed just six turnovers to Detroit Mercy’s 16, leading to a 24-6 margin in points off of turnovers.
“Two keys to the game going in were winning the rebound battle and not turning the ball over,” said Duffy, the Dayton native and Chaminade Julienne High School graduate who played at Notre Dame and in the WNBA before working as an assistant coach at three schools before taking the Miami job.
Senior guard Kayla Brown sank an eight-foot jumper with 6:48 left in the second quarter for a 30-28 lead Miami never gave up. The RedHawks led by as many as 27 in the last minute of the game.
“We were more ready to fast-break,” Dickerson said, though each team scored just two fast-break points. “We didn’t look to do that as much last year.”
“We run a lot in practice, and I think we wore them down,” Kluesner added. “I think we’re in better shape than last year.”
One of Duffy’s biggest adjustments was being able to stand and watch the action instead of being glued to the assistant’s chair. Somebody suggested she probably hadn’t stood that much on a court during a game since her playing days.
“It’s amazing when you’re in the top spot how much you can see, offensively and defensively, when the head coach isn’t blocking your view,” she said. “I had a blast today, mostly from seeing the team get their first victory.
“My dad (Mike Duffy) has a saying, ‘You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.’ ”
She was asked if she planned to grab any artifacts from her first career coaching win.
“The game ball would be nice,” she said. “I’m just thrilled for the team.”
Miami’s next two games are at Purdue on Wednesday and at Cincinnati on Dec. 18.