MAC-leading Toledo tops Miami

Miami on Tuesday night reached 80 points in a fourth consecutive game for the first time since January 1990.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, it wasn’t enough to overcome J.T. Shumate and Mid-American Conference-leading Toledo.

The 6-foot-7 Shumate had connected on just two 3-pointers this season before going 5-for-5 from behind the line and 11-for-11 overall from the field in Rockets’ 90-81 win at Miami’s Millett Hall.

“Give Toledo credit,” fourth-year Miami coach Jack Owens said. “They came in and played well. Shumate was the difference in the game. Early on, he made some 3s he normally doesn’t make.”

Junior guard Mekhi Lairy led five Miami players in double figures with 17 points, 15 in the second. Sophomore guard Dae Dae Grant, named on Monday the MAC Player of the Week after averaging 21.3 points per game while Miami was winning three games in five days last week, scored 14 points. Senior forward Dalonte Brown scored 12 points, third-year sophomore guard Myja White added 11 and fourth-year junior forward James Beck chipped in with 10 points for the RedHawks, who trailed the entire game.

Toledo outrebounded Miami (7-5, 4-3) 31-24, leading to a 20-6 advantage in second-chance points. The Rockets also converted the RedHawks’ 11 turnovers into a 19-11 gap in points off turnovers.

“We know we can compete with any team in the league,” Owens said. “That’s not the issue. We have been playing better. We just have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and play better defense.

“I just thought they were quicker to the ball than us. Give them credit. They ran their stuff. We could’ve done things better on both sides of the ball. We’ll get a well-deserved day off tomorrow. We’ve been going every day for two weeks straight.”

Tuesday’s game was Miami’s fourth in eight days, the result of the game against Bowling Green being rescheduled for this past Thursday after it was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. Owens didn’t want to use fatigue as a excuse.

“It is what it is,” he said. “If that’s the reason they were quicker to the ball, it makes sense, but you can’t use that as an excuse. We were a little tentative to start the game.”

Miami as a team made just three more 3-pointers than Shumate, who finished with 33 points. The only shot he missed was the last of his seven free throws.

“We didn’t shoot the 3 as well as we can,” said Owens, referring to Miami’s 8-for-22 performance from beyond the arc. “We’re a skilled offensive team, but our defense and rebounding has to be better. We’re a good offensive team. We have to continue to share the basketball and take quality shots, but we’ve got to play defense and take care of the basketball.”

The RedHawks are scheduled to play a fourth home game out of their last five on Saturday against Western Michigan. Tipoff at Millett Hall is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Toledo took control with a 13-0 run late in the first half while Miami was going five straight possessions without scoring late in the first half. The RedHawks, who went into the game averaging a MAC-best 10.3 turnovers per game, committed seven before halftime, leading to a 13-2 Toledo advantage in points off turnovers.

“They hit some shots we didn’t expect to start the game,” said Lairy, who also had five assists. “We dug ourselves a hole with a few sloppy turnovers. They’re the No. 1 team in the conference for a reason. Hopefully, we can come back on Saturday.”

The RedHawks cut Toledo’s lead to four points twice in the second half, but they could get no closer while suffering a 14th consecutive loss to the Rockets.

“It just shows who we are as a team,” Lairy said. “We didn’t put ourselves in the best position but we had a chance at the end. We just needed to make more plays at the end of the game.”

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