Losing Nike Sibande to a bloody nose and foul problems for an extended period of time left an already short Miami bench even shorter for the RedHawks’ game against Alabama A&M on Saturday
They still had enough to overwhelm the Bulldogs.
Junior forward Dalonte Brown put up a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, freshman guard Dae Dae Grant scored nine of his 15 points in the second half as Miami (2-1) led by as many as 23 before settling for a 79-63 win before a crowd of 1,480 at Millett Hall.
The RedHawks made six of their first eight 3-point shots after halftime on the way to piling up 50 points.
“We continued playing the way we had been playing – just better,” said Grant, who’s started all three of Miami’s games and had scored a total of two points in almost 28 minutes.
“I’m not worried about Dae Dae’s offense,” third-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “He’s getting acclimated. He can score points, and he can score in bunches. He and (sophomore guard) Mekhi (Lairy) complement each other.”
Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands added 12 points for the RedHawks, who outrebounded Alabama A&M (0-4), 47-31. The 6-foot-7 Brown’s six offensive rebounds were more than Bulldogs finished with as a team. When Owens took Brown out with 4:16 left in the game, fans gave him a standing ovation.
Senior Bam Bowman and freshman forward Javin Etzler both were not available going into the game and Sibande, Miami’s leading scorer, was limited to just under 17 minutes before fouling out. He still scored 10 points, but Owens was forced to rely on other players.
“It’s challenging day-to-day figuring out rotations,” Owens said. “This is the most banged-up we’ve been since I’ve been here. Our rotations aren’t set up. I like these guys. They have a next-man-up mentality.”
The RedHawks wore special, pinstriped uniforms as part of Miami’s “Celebrating Miami: Tribe & University” week highlighting the partnership between Miami athletics and the Myaamia Center on the Oxford campus. The partnership reflects the relationship between the university and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.
Miami will return to the court on Wednesday at noon against Central State, part of basketball-football doubleheader that includes the 7:30 p.m. matchup with Akron. Parking for the basketball game is free and tickets cost $1.
E.J. Williams, the Bulldogs’ 6-10 center from Middletown, started and scored four points in just under 13 minutes.
Sibande scored six points on back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second half, sparking the RedHawks to a run during which they made six of their first eight shots from beyond the arc. Grant followed with a personal 7-0 run that included a steal.
“I was feeling comfortable,” he said.
The second-half outburst also included Milos Jovic’s no-look pass from the lane to Brown in the corner, who sank a 3-pointer for a 58-41 lead with 12:24 left in the game. The 6-4 Jovic tied his single-game career high with five assists.
The RedHawks led in the first half by as many as nine points, 16-7 and 18-9, before the Bulldogs zone defense started hampering the Miami offense. Alabama A&M put together a 14-2 run that left them leading, 23-20. Brown’s conventional three-point play gave Miami a 26-23 lead with 2:59 left before halftime, but the Bulldogs ended the half with a 9-3 run capped by Alford’s floater that dropped through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Miami shot just 29.7 percent from the field in the first half, including 27.8 on 3-pointers, before heating up to 58.1 overall and 52.6 in the second half.
“The second half, we played the way we wanted to play,” Owens said. “In the first half, we started off well offensively. Defensively, we had some breakdowns. When they packed in the zone, we had to pass up good shots to get great shots. I thought we hurried some shots. There were times we got into the lane and didn’t make the right decisions.”
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