Thursday, February 21, 2002

Physical Bowling Green overpowers Miami

MU loses 1st MAC game in Millett

By Ian Duthie
Enquirer contributor

        OXFORD — Bowling Green's physical defense caused Miami to shoot poorly in the first half of the RedHawks' 65-60 loss Wednesday, MU's first conference loss at home this season.

        “We can't make any excuses,” Miami's Juby Johnson said. “Probably we just got lazy and weren't focused. We struggled real bad on offense. Coaches called good plays. I put the blame on myself and the team.”

        MU (11-15, 8-7 Mid-American Conference) didn't score its eighth point until the 5:20 mark of the first half and finished with only 19 points. Miami coach Charlie Coles was upset after the game about how physical the game was early, but he said it was no excuse for the effort.

        “We were outplayed from the beginning,” Coles said. “I think we tried to give a good effort, but we ran into a lot problems and that's on me.”

        The 19 points marked the second-lowest output in a half for Miami at home this season; MU hit only six of its 23 field goal attempts. Four times this season Miami had found a way to win at home after trailing at half, but it wasn't to be Wednesday.

        “Start to finish, we played as well defensively for 40 minutes as any time during my five years here,” Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich said.

        Bowling Green's Len Matela made sure Miami wouldn't mount a comeback, scoring 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Miami's interior defense was able to hold down BG's big man in the first half, limiting him to only three free throws, but the 6-foot-9 Matela exploited Miami's undersized defenders in the second half. The Falcons (20-6, 10-5) consistently went to Matela, and he delivered with a variety of head fakes and spins to score despite constant double-teams.

        “Teams really have to focus on McLeod,” Matela said of teammate Keith McLeod, who is sixth in the nation in scoring, with an average of 23 points a game. “That leaves someone open, and tonight we made an adjustment (after halftime) that got me the ball after screening for Keith.”

        Miami limited McLeod to 10 points, his third-lowest output of the year. As for Miami, no one reached double digits; Johnson led the team with nine points.


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