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Johnson stands tall at foul line in Miami victory

Reggie Johnson didn’t make a field goal all night, but still found a way to help Miami University’s men’s basketball team get a win Saturday.

The freshman guard converted 8 of 10 free throws to offset an 0-of-3 effort from the floor as the visiting RedHawks topped Central Michigan 70-61 before a crowd of 2,253 at McGuirk Arena.

The Chippewas kept fouling the 64-percent free-throw shooter down the stretch, and Johnson responded by hitting 5 of 6 foul shots in the last 93 seconds.

“It was just the way the press was working because at that time, I was in at the point guard,” Johnson said. “I was usually the first person to get the ball, and they were fouling right off the inbounds.

“I was fine when I got to the line. Everything we’ve been down with — free throws, rebounding — we’ve been working at, so I felt like everybody that was in the lineup was probably confident because now everybody’s believing in each other.”

MU coach John Cooper was thrilled to see Johnson stand tall at crunch time.

“It’s about time. I was about ready to knock him upside his head,” Cooper said. “Eight of 10 … I’ve been waiting on that all year.”

A good effort: Cooper was happy with a lot of what he saw Saturday, but not everything.

“I thought we were competitive,” he said. “I thought we did a much better job on the boards. We had some turnovers that were a little costly, but we were able to come up and make some plays when they were necessary.

“I felt confident down the stretch, but I wanted our guys to understand how you have to take care of the ball. We only had 10 turnovers, but there were a couple possessions where we didn’t make the right decision. When you can do those things the right way, that’s how you close out a game.”

Scrappy Sullivan: Sophomore guard Will Sullivan scored 10 points and once again showed some grit by snagging six rebounds. It was only his third double-digit scoring effort of the season.

“It’s just kind of what happened in the swing of the game,” Sullivan said. “My role is not always to be one of the leading scorers. I’ve accepted my role to just be a guy that kind of fills up the stat sheet, help out with rebounding, get some steals on defense. It worked out today where I had a couple mismatches where I could take them to the paint.”

The 6-foot-3 Sullivan was 4 of 7 from the field and had just one turnover in 24 minutes.

Notebook: The Chippewas were 11 of 12 at the foul line in the second half, but just 4 of 11 in the opening 20 minutes. … No Miami player had more than two turnovers in the game. Central totaled 14. … Quinten Rollins and Allen Roberts both dished out three assists for the RedHawks. Rollins added three steals.

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