Miami tops Stetson, eyes first 4-0 start since Sweet 16 season

Miami's Dae Dae Grant fires a shot during Saturday's game vs. Lamar. Grant scored 18 points Wednesday night in the RedHawks' win over Stetson at Millett Hall. Miami Athletics photo
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Miami's Dae Dae Grant fires a shot during Saturday's game vs. Lamar. Grant scored 18 points Wednesday night in the RedHawks' win over Stetson at Millett Hall. Miami Athletics photo

OXFORD -- The last time the Miami men’s basketball team was 4-0, Wally Szczerbiak was starting his senior season.

That was the 1998-1999 season, when the RedHawks reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Miami can break that slump on Saturday after handling Stetson, 80-65, in a non-conference game on Wednesday at Millett Hall in Oxford.

The RedHawks are scheduled to play the third of four consecutive home games on Saturday against Division III Heidelberg. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Defiance, another Division III team, is due to follow Heidelberg into Millett Hall for a 7 p.m. game on Nov. 23.

Fifth-year senior forward Precious Ayah set a career high with 18 points. Junior guard Dae Dae Grant also had 18, and senior forward Dalonte Brown finished with 16. Fourth-year junior guard Myja White added 11 points.

“The guards did a good job of putting me in position to score,” said the 6-foot-6 Ayah, who tied Brown for the team lead with eight rebounds and capped his night with acrobatic left-handed reverse layup. “A big shoutout to them. They did a good job making me look good. We were taking what the defense gave us”

After sinking 17 3-pointers in their 104-75 win over Lamar on Saturday, the RedHawks settled for nine on Wednesday but made up for with a solid inside game against a Stetson (1-2) team that deployed a variety of defenses.

“The guys did a good job of getting into the heart of the zone – the sweet spot,” coach Jack Owens said. “Our guys did a good job. They stayed the course. Whatever defense Stetson was using, they attacked it appropriately.”

The RedHawks sank 17-of-18 free throws, including a combined 8-for-8 by Grant and senior guard Mekhi Lairy in the last 2:23 to help keep the Hatters at bay.

Miami also forced 11 turnovers while being whistled for just nine personal fouls. The RedHawks committed just five turnovers while getting credit for seven steals.

“Overall, I was happy with the win,” Owens said. “The guys competed and played hard. We still have some things to clean up.”

“We believe in each other,” Ayah said. “Our chemistry is strong.”

Miami took a game-high 15-point lead on Brown’s breakout layup off length-of-the-court pass from Grant with 17:53 left in the game. The Hatters whittled away at the lead and cut it to eight with 11:51 to play before Grant went on a personal 7-2 run and assisted on a White 3-pointer to help the RedHawks open up a 13-point lead, 64-51, with 9:49 left in the game.

Miami never trailed after opening the game with an 8-0 run. The RedHawks led by 11, 15-4, before the Hatters staged their own 8-0 run. After a Miami timeout, the RedHawks put together a 10-0 run led by Brown’s six points. They led by as many as 13 points, 36-23, on an Ayah layup with 3:02 left in the half before settling for a 38-26 halftime salvaged by Brown’s block of a Josh Smith layup at the buzzer.

“Precious and Dalonte set the tone,” Owens said. “Dalonte scores two points in the first half and then 16 in the second half.”

Brown and Ayah both finished the half with 12 points. Each shot 4-for-5 from the field and collected five rebounds before halftime. Ayah needed only the first half to matche his single-game. He also scored 12 points on Nov. 13, 2019, in an 84-80 win at Purdue Fort Worth.

Bryson Tatum, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard from Urbana, Ill., joined Marr Avance as Miami players who will redshirt this year. Tatum has not played this season and appeared in four games last season.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Heidelberg at Miami, 2 p.m., ESPN3, 980, 1450

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