Grant leads Miami past Bowling Green

Miami’s Dae Dae Grant puts up a shot agaisnt Western Michigan at Millett Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Miami Athletics PHOTO
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Miami’s Dae Dae Grant puts up a shot agaisnt Western Michigan at Millett Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Miami Athletics PHOTO

OXFORD -- Miami’s current men’s basketball schedule resembles that of a National Basketball Association team’s, so it’s appropriate that they’re scoring at an NBA-like pace.

After scoring 81 points in a Mid-American Conference win over Ball State on Tuesday, the RedHawks rushed to a 9-0 lead before three minutes were gone on the way to a 96-77 win over Bowling Green on Thursday at Miami’s Millett Hall. The Falcons (10-5, 6-3) never got closer than seven points.

“I was proud of the effort our guys put out to start and finish the game,” fourth-year coach Jack Owens said. “They came out ready and made shots, and that carried over to the second half. We knew Bowling Green would make a run. They’re a good team.”

“This was a complete game,” Owens added. “We played good defense both halves. We had 20 assists. We continue to grow and get better.”

Sophomore guard Dae Dae Grant set single-game career highs with 27 points and five 3-pointers, going 9-for-16 from the field, and tied his single-game career high with five assists while Miami (6-4, 3-2) was piling up its most points against a Division I or Mid-American Conference team this century.

“It’s pretty big,” Grant said about coming up huge against the team picked to win the MAC in the pre-season conference coaches’ poll. “It’s very big, but I can’t let that stand in the way of my teammates. Whatever comes out individually is what it is. I could have zeros across the board as long as we win the game.

Grant wasn’t prepared to say this was Miami’s best game of the season.

“I’m not going to be the one to say that because we’re not finished playing, but this was one of our greater games so far,” the 6-foot-2 Grant said.

Senior forward Dalonte Brown finished with a double-double, scoring 17 points – 12 in the second half – and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Mekhi Lairy scored 16 points, sophomore guard Myja White added 11 and junior forward Eli McNamara managed 10 before fouling out.

McNamara wasn’t the only player with foul issues. Junior forward James Beck played just six minutes, but 6-foot-6 fifth-year senior Precious Ayah came off the bench to score four points and grab six rebounds in 14 minutes.

“We were in a pickle there,” Owens said. “Precious was big-time.”

The RedHawks, who’ve seen four games cancelled and two postponed to coronavirus protocols, are scheduled to play their third game in five days on Saturday when they travel to Eastern Michigan for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. They are due to return to Millett Hall on Tuesday for the first of two straight home games with a 7 p.m. matchup against Toledo, followed on Jan. 30 with a 2 p.m. game against Western Michigan.

“In this day and age and with everything going on these days, we just want the opportunity to play,” Owens said. “We’ll enjoy the win tonight and jump on the bus tomorrow.”

Bowling Green went into the game in second place in the MAC, while Miami was seventh.

The RedHawks, who went into the game shooting 41.5 percent from the field for the season, connected on nine of their first 13 shots, a red-hot 69 percent pace that produced a 21-4 lead with 12:16 left before halftime. They cooled off to a 53.1 percentage (17-of-32 by halftime while still setting a season high for first-half scoring and taking a 41-32 lead into the locker room. Grant scored 14 points in the half and senior forward Dalonte Brown tied by halftime his single-game career high with four assists.

Miami led by as many as 22 points in the final minute.

“We have a skilled team,” Owens said. “We have guys who can dribble, pass and shoot, not just one guy hunting shots. We have a team of guys who believe in each other. We’ve done this before. Before the game, we talked about keeping your foot on the gas. Why let the other team back in the game? We want them to take open rhythm shots.”