Cleve Wright really hadn’t given much thought to Miami’s game against Eastern Kentucky on Friday being his first as a Division I head coach.
Wright made his debut with the RedHawk women’s basketball team in a noon game at Millett Hall, and while Miami lost, 59-55, he saw some positives upon which he believes they can build.
“I’m certainly very happy with the situation,” the former Gannon coach said after the game. “We have players who want to learn – who want to get better. I was excited.”
Senior guard Hannah Robertson, an All-Mid-American Conference East Division preseason pick, came off the bench to score 13 points and freshman Nicole Anderson also scored 13, including two free throws with 2:22 left that gave the RedHawks their last lead, 53-51, and two more that tied it at 55 with 39 seconds left.
Miami (0-1) couldn’t offset Colonel senior Marie Carpenter’s 27 points, including a 3-pointer with 2:03 left that returned the lead to the Colonels and another with 22 seconds left that snapped a 55-55 tie.
“They did a great job getting her the ball,” Wright said. “We challenged her in crucial situations, and she still hit the shot.”
Poor shooting was Miami’s primary problem. The RedHawks shot 35.8 percent (19-of-53) from the field, including 1-for-10 on 3-pointers. They missed their first seven shots from beyond the arc before Robertson sank one with 5:47 left in the game to give Miami a 46-44 lead.
Eastern Kentucky (1-0), which beat Miami in overtime at Richmond, Ky., in last season’s opener, made three more field goals on six fewer shots and finished with a 46.8 shooting percentage (22-for-47).
“I saw a lot of things we need to continue to work on and continue to teach and preach and coach,” Wright said. “I told the team, win or lose, it would be a learning experience. If not, it’s a wasted day.”
That was particularly true on defense, which Wright compared to a roller-coaster and helped contribute to Miami being outrebounded, 36-32.
“We did some good things, but then we reverted,” he said.
What Wright liked was seeing nine of the 10 players who got into the game reach double figures in minutes, including freshman guard Jillian Spurlock. The Hamilton High School product went 1-for-9 from the field and scored four points in 18 minutes.
“As the players get more experience, we’re not going to be one-dimensional or two-dimensional,” Wright said.
Miami’s next game is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Wright State. The RedHawks next home game is Nov. 16 against Chicago State at 2 p.m.