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Miami squanders double-digit lead, ends regular season with 9th straight loss

The Miami University men’s basketball team added to its pile of agonizing defeats Saturday.

Trying to deny host Ohio a share of the Mid-American Conference East Division championship, the RedHawks built a 12-point lead against the Bobcats in the second half, then watched it disappear in a span of just under five minutes.

MU got outscored 26-10 over the final 11:44 and ended the regular season with its ninth straight loss, a 58-54 setback before a crowd of 8,428 at the Convocation Center.

“I thought we played well enough in many facets of the game through most of the game,” Miami coach John Cooper said. “That’s the problem, that it was most of the game. We certainly broke down, particularly on the offensive boards in the second half, and then the turnovers.

“It’s been one of those kind of years. I’ll commend our guys because they’ve continued to compete, which is not always easy to do when you’re struggling. We got beat by the better team at the end of the day down the stretch.”

The RedHawks committed 10 of their 15 turnovers after halftime and were 10 of 18 at the charity stripe. Their record slid to 8-21 overall and 3-13 in the MAC.

Will Felder had 20 points and Jon Harris added 13 for MU, which is the 11th (and last) seed in the MAC tournament and will travel to Bowling Green on Monday night.

“We leave here thinking about BG,” said Felder, who matched his best offensive output at Miami. “We don’t leave here thinking about this game because we can’t control that anymore. It’s done.”

“I thought we were going to win it the whole time,” added RedHawks guard Quinten Rollins, who had four points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. “Our record might not indicate it, but going into every game, every player from A to Z on this roster thinks we’re going to win.”

D.J. Cooper paced the Bobcats with 17 points. Jon Smith (nine points, 10 rebounds) and Stevie Taylor (eight points, three steals) were pivotal contributors off the bench.

Ohio (23-8, 14-2) is the No. 2 seed in the MAC tourney, but will share the East crown with Akron, after overcoming a 31.7-percent shooting performance. The Bobcats hauled in 14 offensive boards.

“Senior Night,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “I’ve been in a lot of places, and you just never know how seniors are going to react. I thought it kind of drained us. We came out a little bit flat. Then we showed courage the last 12 minutes of the game.”

The hosts were down 44-32 when Taylor’s 3-pointer with 11:44 remaining sparked a 15-point run. MU aided the green cause with multiple turnovers and general tentativeness.

The RedHawks were still within 56-54 in the final minute, but couldn’t come up with a clutch play to get the lead back.

Miami shot 42.9 percent from the field and converted 2 of 11 shots beyond the arc.

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