They partied like it was 1999 at Millett Hall on Friday night.
Unfortunately for Miami’s men’s basketball team, the Redhawks couldn’t shoot like it was 1999.
Wally Szczerbiak, Miami’s career 3-point shooting percentage leader and the leader of the 1998-1999 NCAA Sweet Sixteen team, was on hand with the CBS Sports Network crew to broadcast the RedHawks’ Mid-American Conference game against West Division-leading Toledo.
Szczerbiak watched Miami (13-12, 6-6 MAC) set a season low with four 3-pointers, allowing Toledo to hold off the RedHawks for a 73-67 win. Miami hoisted 27 3-point tries to finish with a season-low .147 percentage from behind the line.
“It was just tonight,” said junior guard Darrian Ringo, who sank a tip-in at the buzzer to finish with a team 16 points. “It’s just confidence. We’ve got to get into the gym and stay in the gym and fall in love with the gym.”
Senior forward Logan McLane scored 15 points, 13 in the second half, before fouling out and freshman guard Nike Sibande added 13, 10 in the second half, for the RedHawks, who’ve lost their last two games after winning two straight and four out of five.
Led by 6-11 junior Luke Knapke’s five blocked shots, tying the most by a Miami opposing player this season, the Rockets (18-7, 10-2 MAC) set the RedHawks opposing team’s season high with eight blocks while picking up their 10th win in their last 11 games.
“There were times he affected some shots,” Ringo said. “I’ve got to be smart and use a jump stop and find our big guys.”
The second-largest crowd of the season, 3,525, included a season-high 1,533 students. The first thousand received replica N0. 32 Szczerbiak jerseys. The game originally was scheduled to be played on Saturday.
“It was awesome,” McLane said. “That was the best crowd since I’ve been here. It was good to see (Szczerbiak) come back and support.”
McLane also saw a bit of a downside.
“We came out a little anxious,” he said when asked sbout the irony of shooting so poorly in front of one of the program’s all-time most accurate shooters. “We were hyped up. We were filled with energy. We’ve got to calm down and play our game.”
“We weren’t ourselves in the first half,” first-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “We weren’t quite all together. It was a great atmosphere. I hope we see it ever game.”
The RedHawks play four of their next five games on the road, starting Tuesday with an inter-divisional rematch at Eastern Michigan against an Eagles team that pinned a 58-48 loss on Miami on Jan. 27. The RedHawks return to East Division competition on Feb. 17 at Ohio before returning home to face East-leading Buffalo on Feb. 20. Miami lost, 82-66, at Buffalo on Jan. 13.
The lead changed hands nine times in the first half before Toledo put together a 15-4 run that led to a 33-22 halftime lead. The RedHawks shot just 31.3 percent from the field (10-for-32), including 1-for-13 on 3-pointers in the first half. The Rockets finished the half 13-for-27 (48.1 percent) from the field.
The RedHawks rode a 12-1 run to a 41-40 lead with 14 minutes left in the game, but Toledo responded with an 8-3 run to regain a 48-43 edge.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” Owens said. “Once we got into the flow of the game, we were able to come back and take a lead.
“It was a competitive game. I do see growth. Two months ago, if we got down by 11, we’d end up losing by 25 or 30.