Sunday, March 11, 2001

Miami bubble bursts

Kent State beat RedHawks in MAC final

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alex Shorts agonizes over the loss.
(AP photos)
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        CLEVELAND — Miami's magic ride to the NCAA Tournament ended when the RedHawks ran into a team just like theirs.

        Kent State beat Miami at its own game 67-61 Saturday night before a Mid-American Conference Tournament-record crowd of 12,172 at Gund Arena.

        The No.2-seeded Golden Flashes kept it close for 36 minutes and then won with big plays at the end. That's how Miami, the eighth seed, advanced through the first three rounds of the tournament.

        “They played like champions,” Miami senior Mike Ensminger said. “They know how to win and they showed it.”

        The RedHawks have played for the MAC Tournament title the last five years. But Saturday's loss extended their losing streak in finals to four games.

Kent's Trevor Huffman, driving past Juby Johnson, scored 27 points.
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        “We're not ashamed,” Miami coach Charlie Coles said. “But I would like to win one of these MAC championship games. I don't want to be Bud Grant or that other guy from Buffalo (Marv Levy), but I guess I am.”

        Miami, which rallied to beat Ohio on Friday, couldn't overcome having two of its starter foul out Saturday against Kent State.

        “That was tough,” Coles said.

        The players clearly were upset by the loss, but Coles was able to put in perspective.

        “This doesn't hurt any more than any other one,” Coles said. “It does for the kids, but I'm a man, an old man. You add up my wins and losses, and there ain't much difference. So I've got no ego.

        “But I never had a team that quit, and I'm proud that.”

Shorts is fouled by Mike Perry.
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        This season's team certainly didn't. The RedHawks were 4-8 at one point and lost three of four games to end the regular season 14-15. But they rallied in the tournament and played an excellent game Saturday.

        But so did Kent, and neither team could get control. There were few turnovers (13 total), lots of great plays and two teams going all out.

        “It was a game of will,” Kent coach Gary Waters said. “Our kids won it with defense in the last four minutes.”

        Miami pulled within one at 61-60 with 4:17 left. It was still 61-60 when point guard Doug Davis fouled out with 2:06 to go on a charging call.

        “If Doug doesn't charge — and that was a charge — we've got a chance,” Coles said. “That's all we wanted.”

        It got worse for Miami. Mike Ensminger fouled out trying to rebound Eric Thomas' miss.

        Miami was left to finish with a makeshift lineup. Kent made the big plays, and Miami didn't.

Kent's Kyrem Massey takes a fall after being stripped of the ball by Miami's Mike Ensminger.
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        Kent's Trevor Huffman, the tournament MVP, scored off a one-on-one move to make it 64-60 with 1:09 left.

        Miami's Alex Shorts, who had made 13 straight free throws, missed first of two 10 seconds later.

        All Miami managed after that was to put up prayer shots. This time, they were not answered.

        A team seeded lower than No.4 has never won the MAC tourney title.

        “If you're the eighth seed,”Coles said, “that's probably a hint you're not going to win it. This team overachieved.”

        Miami finishes 17-16. Kent goes to the NCAA Tournament at 22-9.

        Shorts, who made the all-tourney team, led Miami with 26 points and eight rebounds. Davis added 12 points and Juby Johnson had 11 points — all in the first 11 minutes of the game.

        Friday's hero, Jason Grunkemeyer, made his first shot, then missed his next eight.

        “That's not how I wanted to go out,” Grunkemeyer said. “I was pretty bad.”

        Huffman finished with 27 points. He missed his first three shots, then went 7-of-8 the rest of the way.

        It was the last game for Miami's three seniors: Grunkemeyer, Ensminger and Rich Allendorf.

        “We had the times of our lives,” Ensminger said. “No team in America had more fun than us. We went to the Sweet 16. We played in the MAC champion game four times.

        “This loss doesn't change that.”

Coles already looking ahead to next year

MIAMI  (61)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Johnson         37  5-10   0-1   2-2  3  4   11
Shorts          32  6-13 14-15   2-8  0  2   26
Ensminger       33   3-4   0-1   2-3  3  5    6
Grunkemeyer     40   1-9   1-2   1-2  3  2    3
Davis           36  5-10   0-0   1-3  3  5   12
Jameson          2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  2    0
Drake            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Seals            7   1-1   0-1   1-1  0  0    2
Edwards          7   0-0   0-0   0-2  0  0    0
Allendorf        5   0-2   1-2   2-4  0  0    1
TOTALS         200 21-49 16-22 11-25 12 21   61

Percentages: FG-.429, FT-.727. 3-Point Goals:
3-10, .300 (Johnson 1-2, Grunkemeyer 0-4, Davis
2-4). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 1
(Edwards). Turnovers: 7 (Davis 3, Ensminger,
Johnson, Seals, Shorts). Steals: 4 (Johnson 3,

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Shaw            32   2-2   1-2   2-8  1  1    5
Massey          25   2-4   0-0   0-2  1  3    4
Perry           11   2-3   0-0   0-1  0  4    4
Mitchell        34  6-11   5-6   1-2  0  1   19
Huffman         37  7-11 11-13   0-4  4  2   27
Haut             2   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Thomas          20   1-3   0-0   0-2  0  1    2
Bedford         10   0-1   0-0   1-1  0  2    0
Warren          27   2-5   2-6   4-7  0  4    6
Smriga           1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Edwards          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
TOTALS         200 22-41 19-27  8-28  6 19   67

Percentages: FG-.537, FT-.704. 3-Point Goals:
4-11, .364 (Massey 0-1, Mitchell 2-3, Huffman
2-4, Haut 0-1, Thomas 0-2). Team rebounds: 2.
Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 7 (Huffman 2,
Massey, Perry, Shaw, Thomas, Warren). Steals: 2
(Huffman, Thomas).
Miami              31   30  -   61
Kent State         35   32  -   67
Technical fouls: None.  A: 12,172. Officials: Sam
Lickliter, Randy Drury, Jd Collins.

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