Friday, March 09, 2001

Miami upsets MAC favorite


Seals' block helps seal 65-56 win

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Rich Allendorf and Doug Davis lead the celebration in the final seconds.
(AP photos)
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        CLEVELAND — You knew Miami was going to do it again when this happened:

        Central Michigan's David Webber, the Mid-American Conference player of the year, took a 3-point shot from the corner. Just as he released the ball, Eugene Seals sailed in to block it. The ball was heading out of bounds when Jason Grunkemeyer saved it, flipping it to Doug Davis. On the other end, Miami missed a shot but got the offensive rebound before Seals drained a 3.

        There was still 2:07 to play in Thursday's MAC Tournament quarterfinal game, but No.1-seeded Central was done. Miami made just enough free throws the rest of the way to secure a 65-56 win at Gund Arena.

        “Big-time play,” coach Charlie Coles said of Seals' block. “He's the only guy on our team who makes that play.”

        This is the time of year Miami makes big-time plays. It is the second straight year Miami has beaten the No.1 seed. Last year, the ninth-seeded RedHawks beat Bowling Green.

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Alex Shorts (right) and Mike Ensminger fight for a rebound.
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        Miami (16-15) plays Ohio University in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today (ESPN2). A win would put Miami in the MAC tourney finals for the fifth straight year.

        Miami, which was once 4-8 and has had a season-long battle with the .500 mark, is two wins away from the NCAA Tournament.

        “We think we can do it,” said Seals, a freshman. “Anything is possible.”

        “What Coach Coles has stressed all four of my years is once tournament time comes, you can do anything,” senior Mike Ensminger said. “If we're clicking in early March, it doesn't matter what we've done earlier.”

        The RedHawks are able to dream big because they played big against CMU:

        • Miami took the game out of Webber's hands. He was 3-of-20 from the field and finished with eight points, 10.2 below his MAC-leading average.

        Seals and fellow freshman Juby Johnson were responsible for guarding him. “It was no special defense,” Coles said. “We told (them), "Do what you can do.'”

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CMU'S David Webber is surrounded by Miami defenders.
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        • Miami controlled the boards in the second half, outrebounding CMU 20-13 overall. The RedHawks got six offensive rebounds in the second half after getting one in the first.

        “I can't tell you what he told us,” Ensminger said of Coles' on-the-court pep talk just after the first-half buzzer. “It was basically "Get your rear end in gear, or this is your last game.'”

        Ensminger did as told. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds — 11 points and seven boards came in the second half.

        • Guards Grunkemeyer and Davis hit big shots. Grunkemeyer led Miami with 16 points; Davis had 14 points, all in the second half.

        The RedHawks struggled early and trailed 7-0 to start and 21-17 at the half.

        “I told them not to get discouraged,” Coles said. “We only had 17, but they only had 21.”

        Central was leading 36-29 with 12:36 left in the game.

        Then Miami raised the level of its defense. What followed was a 29-6 run — capped by Seals' big play — that gave Miami a 54-42 lead with 2:07 left.

        Seals' play was one of desperation. Webber beat him off a screen.

        “I was just trying to challenge the shot,” Seals said. “I just got the ball right with the tips of two fingers. If I blocked it, it would have gone out of bounds.”

        If Webber's shot goes in, it's a six-point game. Instead, Seals makes his 3, and it's a 12-point MU lead.

        “We got a break there,” Grunkemeyer said. “You start to think, "This might go our way.'”

        There were some anxious moments. MU missed four of eight free throws in one stretch, allowing CMU to cut it to four at 60-56 on Ted Kisner's 3 with 43 seconds to go. But Kisner, who led CMU with 18, fouled out four seconds later.

        “It looked like they were going to catch us,” Coles said. “Kisner was on fire. He's a senior. When he fouled out, I was a little sad for him. But I was happy for us.”

Hunter's numbers mean trouble for RedHawks
Other Mid-American games
Mid-American Conference pairings


MIAMI   (65)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Johnson         31   1-5   3-6   0-1  1  2    5
Shorts          35  3-11   3-4   4-9  0  1    9
Ensminger       40   3-3  7-10   3-8  1  2   13
Grunkemeyer     40  5-10   4-6   0-8  1  2   16
Davis           37  4-11   4-4   0-1  2  5   14
Jameson          3   0-1   2-4   0-1  0  1    2
Seals           10   1-2   3-4   0-2  0  0    6
Allendorf        4   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 17-43 26-38  7-31  5 13   65
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.395, FT-.684. 3-Point Goals:
5-14, .357 (Johnson 0-2, Shorts 0-1, Grunkemeyer
2-4, Davis 2-5, Seals 1-2). Team rebounds: 4.
Blocked shots: 3 (Shorts, Ensminger, Seals).
Turnovers: 6 (Johnson 2, Allendorf, Davis,
Grunkemeyer, Shorts). Steals: 4 (Shorts 2,
Ensminger, Grunkemeyer).


CENTRAL MICH (56)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Manciel         17   3-5   0-0   1-3  1  1    6
Pleiness        37  4-11   0-0  1-11  1  1    8
Brigitha        18   1-2   2-2   0-2  0  3    4
Webber          39  3-20   2-2   1-5  3  3    8
Kisner          39   5-7   4-7   1-1  4  5   18
Woods            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Wallace          2   1-2   0-0   0-0  0  2    3
Meerman          2   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  2    0
Johnson         22   1-2   1-2   0-1  1  4    3
Kaman           14   3-4   0-0   0-1  0  4    6
Dentlinger       1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Schrotenboer     7   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  2    0
Quinn            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 21-54  9-13  4-26 10 27   56
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.389, FT-.692. 3-Point Goals:
5-18, .278 (Pleiness 0-1, Webber 0-8, Kisner 4-5,
Wallace 1-2, Meerman 0-1, Johnson 0-1). Team
rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 1 (Kaman). Turnovers:
8 (Pleiness 3, Brigitha 2, Kisner, Manciel,
Webber). Steals: 5 (Kisner 2, Pleiness, Wallace,
Webber).
__________________________________
Miami              17   48  -   65
Central Mich       21   35  -   56
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None. Officials: Sam Lickliter,
Mike Roberts, Eugene Crawford.


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