Saturday, March 10, 2001

Cinderella Miami makes MAC final


Longshot RedHawks beat OU on Grunkemeyer's long shot

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Jason Grunkemeyer is embraced by teammates after his winning shot.
(AP photos)
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        CLEVELAND — Miami really shouldn't be playing for the Mid-American Conference Tournament title today.The list of reasons of why the RedHawks should have lost to Ohio was longer than the 3-point shot Jason Grunkemeyer made to beat OU 62-61 in the semifinals at Gund Arena Friday.

        And Grunkemeyer's 3 was a long one.

        “It was pretty deep,” Grunkemeyer said. “I rushed it a little bit, but then I saw it. I said, "Oh my gosh, this thing has got a chance.”

        It hit the back of the rim, hit the front, then trickled through with 6.8 seconds left.

        “Somehow it went in,” Grunkemeyer said. “It wasn't the prettiest of shots, and it kind of snuck over the rim, but it still counts as three.”

        Miami's Doug Davis stole the ball from OU's Anthony Jones on the other end, and all that was left was Miami's celebration on the court.

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Alex Shorts
(AP photos)
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        And why not celebrate? All that stands between Miami, the MAC's No.8 seed, and an NCAA Tournament berth is today's MAC final against Kent State, which beat Ball State in the other semifinal.

        Miami won at Kent State 48-45 on Feb. 7.

        No seed lower than No.4 has won the MAC tournament in its 20 years.

        “Here we are one game from the greatest event in sports,” Grunkemeyer said. “We can do it. That's how everyone is thinking.”

        The RedHawks are in the final for the fifth straight year. They are 1-3 in those finals. But after Friday, don't bet against Miami. The victory over OU was equal parts thrilling and improba ble. Consider:

        • Miami led only twice — 49-48 with 6:09 to play and after Grunkemeyer's 3.

        • The RedHawks trailed by 15 with 4:37 left in the first half, by 10 at halftime and by five with 1:17 left in the game.

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OU's Brandon Hunter (34) loses the ball as he is fouled by Brian Edwards (33).
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        • The RedHawks' vocal leader and best inside defender (Mike Ensminger) picked up his fourth foul with 16:28 left. The leading scorer (Alex Shorts) picked up his fourth with 14:36 left.

        But Miami (17-15) pulled it out, winning its third straight game for only the second time all season.

        Defense, as always, was key. The RedHawks held all-MAC forward Brandon Hunter to nine points with makeshift inside defense. In the second half, the RedHawks held OU to 29 percent shooting and outrebounded the Bobcats 21-13.

        The players credited coach Charlie Coles.

        “We're a product of our coach,” Shorts said. “He's a fighter. We keep fighting.”

        Coles credited the players.

        “The last-second heroics were all the players,” Coles said. “Me and my assistants had nothing to do with it. It was players making big shots and big stops.”

        Miami got back in it by making four straight free throws, while OU went 2-of-4. After OU's Jones missed the second of two to make it 59-56 with 31.3 seconds to go, Davis rushed down the floor and got the ball to Shorts in the corner. Shorts, 1-for-4 on the season from 3-point range, swished a 3 to tie the game at 59 with 25 seconds left.

        Freshman Eugene Seals then fouled Jones.

        “Eugene is an intelligent kid — sometimes,” Coles said.

        “I was ready to kill Eugene,” Grunkemeyer said. “But it worked out.”

        Jones made the two free throws with 22.3 left. Davis brought the ball down and got it to Ensminger.

        “I just ran and got the ball from Mike,” Grunkemeyer said.

        Grunkemeyer ran his defender, Dustin Ford, off a screen. Patrick Flomo, OU's 6-foot-8 center, switched on to Grunkemeyer.

        “I saw little daylight between his arms,” Grunkemeyer said.

        He was 3 feet behind the line when he let it go.

        “... If it didn't go in, basketball is over for me,” Grunkemeyer said. “It's been an up-and-down season. That's no secret. This wipes that out.”

RedHawks dig out of big hole
Kent State 67, Ball State 55
Mid-American Conference pairings


MIAMI  (62)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Johnson         25   3-5   0-2   0-1  2  0    7
Shorts          20  4-10   5-6   2-3  0  4   14
Ensminger       34   1-2   0-0   0-6  1  4    2
Grunkemeyer     34  6-11   1-2   0-5  3  3   14
Davis           40   2-5   7-8   0-2  3  2   12
Drake            2   0-2   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Seals           22   3-7   3-4   2-3  1  3    9
Reed             1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  2    0
Edwards         13   1-2   0-0   0-2  0  4    2
Allendorf        9   1-1   0-1   0-3  0  2    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 21-45 16-23  4-25 10 24   62
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.467, FT-.696. 3-Point Goals:
4-10, .400 (Johnson 1-2, Shorts 1-1, Grunkemeyer
1-2, Davis 1-3, Drake 0-1, Seals 0-1). Team
rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Edwards,
Allendorf). Turnovers: 12 (Davis 4, Grunkemeyer
3, Ensminger 2, Edwards, Johnson, Shorts).
Steals: 4 (Davis 2, Grunkemeyer, Johnson).


OHIO (61)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Sanderson       16   2-7   0-2   1-3  0  1    6
Hunter          35   2-9   5-8   3-7  3  3    9
Flomo           34  7-10   3-3   3-7  0  4   17
Ford            29   1-4   3-4   1-3  0  2    5
Jones           36  4-11   8-9   0-1  3  4   16
Crawford         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Harris           2   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  2    0
Stephens        13   0-1   0-0   0-2  1  0    0
Esterkamp       29   2-6   2-2   0-3  2  2    6
Mcvicker         5   1-1   0-2   0-0  0  2    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 19-50 21-30  8-27  9 20   61
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.380, FT-.700. 3-Point Goals:
2-13, .154 (Sanderson 2-5, Ford 0-2, Jones 0-2,
Stephens 0-1, Esterkamp 0-3). Team rebounds: 6.
Blocked shots: 3 (Flomo 3). Turnovers: 13 (Jones
5, Flomo 2, Hunter 2, Esterkamp, Harris,
Mcvicker, Sanderson). Steals: 11 (Jones 4,
Esterkamp 3, Ford 2, Stephens 2).
__________________________________
Miami              22   40  -   62
Ohio               32   29  -   61
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None. Officials: Jd Collins, Dan
Fouser, Mike Roberts.


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