Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Miami wins MAC opener

RedHawks dispatch Akron 69-56

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Akron, the team Miami could not beat during the regular season, seemed to have the RedHawks' number in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament as well. But thanks to a stretch of stifling, in-your-face defense by the RedHawks Monday night, Miami survived 69-56 to play another day.

        The RedHawks, the No.8 seed, move on to play No.1 Central Michigan Thursday at noon in Cleveland in the MAC quarterfinals.

        Miami (15-15), which has made the MAC title game in each of Charlie Coles' four years at head coach, had not lost a first-round MAC tourney game since 1991.

        Akron (12-16) was the No. 9 seed in this year's tourna ment.

        “We didn't want it to end here on this floor,” Miami senior Jason Grunkemeyer said. “The important thing is, we're still playing. It's eight teams and three days. We've shown we can beat the best teams in the league. ... When we're on our game, we're tough to beat. We just need to get hot.”

        The RedHawks' up-and-down season is up again.

        “That's the way it is,” Coles said. “We're out of it; then we're back in it. Go back to the Temple game, we needed to win and we did. Go back to the Notre Dame game, we needed to win — and we didn't even think we could — but we won.”

        Akron beat Miami twice this year — once by 10 (56-46) — so after the Zips' quick start, it looked like Miami was in trouble. Had they lost, the RedHawks would have finished with the first losing record at Miami since 1990.

        The Zips were up eight at 26-18 with 8:20 left in the first half. Former RedHawk Nate Schindewolf was killing Miami from the outside. He had just hit his fourth straight longe-range 3.

        “I told myself I wasn't going to panic if they came out and made a bunch of 3s,” Coles said.

        Miami didn't panic.

        What followed was a 27-4 Miami run over 17 1/2 minutes. Miami scored the first 16 points of the second half to lead 47-30 with 11:50 to go. That was essentially the game.

        Miami finished fourth in the nation in scoring defense, but the stretch where the RedHawks took over the game was the best they played on defense all year. At the halfway point of the second half, Akron was 0-for-6 from the field and had seven turnovers.

        “All it was ... was that we just played great D,” Grunkemeyer said.

        Schindewolf, who had 16 points in the first half, scored two in the second half.

        “It was a given that they were going to come out in the second half and try to keep me from touching the ball,” Schindewolf said. “They did that.”

        Miami's offense fed off its defense.

        Alex Shorts and Doug Davis led Miami with 17 points each. Davis added five assists and five steals and was 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Grunkemeyer added 14 points. Mike Ensminger had eight points and 10 rebounds.

        “Offensively, we did a good job until we realized we were up 16 points,” Coles said.

        “We dug a huge hole,” Akron coach Dan Hipsher said.

        The Zips, who are 0-4 in the MAC tourney, would cut it to nine at 47-38, but that was it.

        The victory allowed the Miami seniors, holdovers from the Wally Szczerbiak-led Sweet 16 team of two years ago, to dream a little — albeit cautiously.

        “We have to stay focused,” Ensminger said. “When we get a big win, it has a tendency to get to our heads. We have to realize, it's one-and-done now. But if we can sneak up on one or two teams, we'll be playing for the championship.”

        Miami beat Central Michigan 73-61 on Jan. 10. The score is deceiving, as Miami led 70-44 at one point. CMU cut into the lead after Coles emptied the bench.

        “When we're on, we're as good as anyone in the league,” Coles said.

AKRON (56)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Schindewolf     35  5-10   3-3   0-0  1  5   18
Zollner         16   1-2   0-0   0-1  0  1    2
Weinkein        31   6-8   2-7   3-6  1  3   14
Brown           29   1-4   1-2   0-2  3  3    3
Smith           35   4-8   0-0   0-5  1  2   12
Sims            22   1-3   2-2   1-2  2  2    4
Thompson         2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Penn            18   0-2   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
Falknor         12   1-3   0-0   0-1  2  1    3
TOTALS         200 19-40  8-14  4-17 11 18   56

Percentages: FG-.475, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals:
10-21, .476 (Schindewolf 5-9, Brown 0-2, Smith
4-6, Sims 0-1, Falknor 1-3). Team rebounds: None.
Blocked shots: 1 (Zollner). Turnovers: 15
(Schindewolf 7, Smith 4, Brown 2, Sims,
Thompson). Steals: 6 (Brown 3, Falknor, Penn,

MIAMI  (69)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Johnson         32   2-5   3-4   1-3  0  3    7
Shorts          40  8-13   1-1   0-5  0  2   17
Ensminger       33   3-6   2-2  3-10  2  3    8
Grunkemeyer     31   2-8   8-8   0-1  1  2   14
Davis           40   6-8   2-2   0-0  5  2   17
Drake           10   1-3   0-0   1-2  2  3    2
Seals            7   1-2   0-0   1-1  0  1    2
Allendorf        7   1-1   0-0   1-2  0  1    2
TOTALS         200 24-46 16-17  7-24 10 17   69

Percentages: FG-.522, FT-.941. 3-Point Goals:
5-10, .500 (Johnson 0-1, Grunkemeyer 2-5, Davis
3-3, Drake 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots:
1 (Grunkemeyer). Turnovers: 13 (Shorts 4, Davis
3, Ensminger 2, Grunkemeyer 2, Allendorf, Seals).
Steals: 12 (Shorts 4, Davis 3, Drake 2, Johnson
2, Ensminger).
Akron              30   26  -   56
Miami              31   38  -   69
Technical fouls: Akron 1 (Bench).  A: 2,571.
Officials: Randy Drury, Glenn Mayborg, Mike

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