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Stronger effort can’t produce win for RedHawks

Miami University’s men’s basketball squad looked like a different team Wednesday night, but the scoreboard told a familiar tale.

The RedHawks rose up with a strong effort against visiting Western Michigan after last Saturday’s dreadful performance against Ball State, yet still couldn’t avoid their fourth straight defeat.

Will Felder had 17 points and 13 rebounds for MU, which was within a point in the final 25 seconds before dropping a 72-68 Mid-American Conference decision at Millett Hall.

“We just said to ourselves in practice, ‘We’ve got to start bringing it,’ ” Felder said. “We feel like the last couple games we fell due to lack of effort. I think the effort was there tonight, but we still didn’t get it.”

Allen Roberts had 10 points, Geovonie McKnight and Jon Harris both scored nine, and Quinten Rollins and Will Sullivan added eight apiece for Miami, which slipped to 7-12 overall and 2-5 in the MAC East Division.

A crowd of 1,206 watched the RedHawks jump out to a 13-2 advantage, then rally from a nine-point deficit to regain the lead (63-62) with 4:07 left.

WMU survived 23 turnovers and 20-of-32 free-throw shooting by putting up a 58.5 field-goal percentage.

“The effort was good enough. Execution wasn’t,” MU coach John Cooper said. “Effort has to be the constant, because if you don’t have effort, you’ll never get better. If you have to start with effort, then you don’t even need to worry about improving because it makes no difference.

“I thought at times we played with a sense of urgency. I liked the way we started the game. (But) we get to the last six, seven minutes of the game … understanding shot selection, things you need to do to win and how you have to win … we’re just not there.”

Miami outboarded the MAC’s best rebounding unit 37-29 overall and 17-6 on the offensive glass. But the hosts missed three shots and two free throws in the last 14 seconds.

Shayne Whittington (13), Darius Paul (12), Nate Hutcheson (11) and Brandon Pokley (11) led the scoring for the West Division-leading Broncos (13-7, 5-2), who pushed their winning streak to five.

“To be honest, I thought they outplayed us,” Western coach Steve Hawkins said. “Our defense was abysmal, but I thought Miami really pushed it and took advantage of it. We just made enough plays at a critical time to pull out the game.”

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