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Long-range shooting powers Bobcats past Miami

The 3-point arc doomed Miami University’s men’s basketball team on both sides of the court Wednesday night.

The RedHawks continued their long-distance struggles with a 3-of-17 effort and visiting Ohio hit 12 treys en route to a 74-62 victory before a crowd of 2,202 at Millett Hall.

“I think everyone understands if we don’t shoot the basketball well, we’re going to struggle,” said MU coach John Cooper, whose squad slipped to 7-10 overall and 2-3 in the Mid-American Conference East Division. “We are who we are. It’s an old cliche, but it’s the truth.”

The Bobcats were 12 of 25 from long range and buried five 3-pointers in a span of just over two minutes early in the second half, stretching a 36-29 halftime lead to 58-36 with 13:50 left.

“That’s the type of team you just can’t give wide-open looks,” said Miami forward Will Felder, who turned in another strong performance with 19 points and 10 boards. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that they got hot. They just did what they were supposed to do.

“It was in transition mostly. It was just off of the rebound. They were running in transition, and (D.J.) Cooper was finding wide-open guys. We didn’t have them accounted for.”

Cooper, a senior point guard, accumulated 17 points, nine assists, seven boards and three steals for the Bobcats (14-5, 5-0), who ran their winning streak to six and are tied with Akron for first place in the East.

Cooper and Nick Kellogg both sank a pair of 3-balls during that early second-half surge, and Kellogg (15 points) was 5 of 7 from that range.

“It’s kind of how we play. We only have one low-post scorer,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “This is as well as we’ve shot the ball on the road. The reason why our 3-point shots were open, our post players were running the floor. When your post player runs down the middle, the defense kind of has to shrink in to take a layup away, and if our wings now run behind him, you get 3-point shots.”

Ivo Baltic collected 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Bobcats, who shot 52.0 percent from the field. MU’s percentage was 34.9.

The RedHawks did manage to narrow the margin to 10 in the last four minutes, then squandered several opportunities to get closer. Allen Roberts scored 14 points and Geovonie McKnight chipped in a career-high 11 for Miami.

“We shoot 34 percent from the field,” John Cooper said. “Quite frankly, we’re lucky we lost by 12.”

“We’re not going to ever lay down and let a team just pummel us, especially not OU,” Felder said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump at the end.”

Christian wasn’t thrilled with his team’s inability to bury MU down the stretch.

“It was sloppy at the end,” he said. “We did a lot of really good things tonight, first and foremost. We rebounded the ball better defensively. We obviously shot the ball better. We had 21 assists. But you can’t go 10 for 19 from the free-throw line, and you can’t have mental lapses toward the end of the game, especially with our team. We have nine juniors and seniors out there.

“I thought Miami played well too. I’ve coached here. You don’t walk into Millett Hall and expect to beat them like a drum off the tap. They’re going to play hard, and it’s going to be a 40-minute game.”

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