Men’s basketball wins third in a row


Aaric Armstead (23) goes up for a shot against Miami (Ohio) Tuesday.

By Brian Earle

Another impressive defensive effort led to the third straight conference victory for men’s basketball as it defeated Miami (Ohio), 53-41, for its first MAC home win of the season Tuesday at the Convocation Center.

This is the first time the Huskies (10-11, 4-5 MAC) have reached double-digit victories in a season and won three consecutive games since 2009.

The Huskies fell behind early for the third straight game as the RedHawks jumped out to a 15-5 lead with 12:13 left in the first half. With the score 19-10 at the 8:01 mark, the Huskies made their move, going on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 19-18 with 5:09 left in the first half.

“I thought our defensive effort never wavered,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “Once we started stopping them in transition, it became a half-court game, and I thought our defense picked up even more.”

The RedHawks extended their lead to five with 1:30 to play in the half, but guard Travon Baker poured in four quick points to cut the score to 27-26 at half.

Out of halftime the RedHawks grabbed another nine-point lead, 37-28, behind the play of forward Joshua Oswald, who scored eight points out of halftime.

At that point, guard Aaron Armstead exploded for eight consecutive points, hitting two 3-point field goals from behind the arc to cut the RedHawks’ lead back down to one, 37-36.

“It started on the defensive end once we were able to stop them, keep them at bay,” Armstead said. “We got it going on the offensive end; we started moving the ball and guys just made shots.”

The Huskies got out in transition on their next possession and Baker pulled up to hit a 3-point basket to give the Huskies their first lead of the game, 39-37.

They didn’t look back from there as they continued to go on a 15-0 run, pushing their lead to 43-37 with 10:23 left in the game.

From there, the Huskies took care of the ball and played lockdown defense, allowing the RedHawks to only score four points in the final 10 minutes of the game.

“I thought our defense was tremendous in the second half,” Montgomery said. “… Our guys got down in a stance and they just guarded because they were going dribble-drive motion, trying to get to the basket, and we just shut down gaps, and then you have to credit [Jordan] Threloff and [Pete] Rakocevic: They were just blocking every shot in there.”

Defensively, the Huskies accounted for 10 blocks and nine steals and forced 15 turnovers. Baker led the Huskies with four steals while centers Threloff and Rakocevic each had three blocks.

“[Threloff] started altering shots early in the game and was able to get a couple of blocks,” said RedHawks coach John Cooper. “Then there were a few time when we got in [the paint], and instead of concentrating on finishing the basket we were looking around for him and so we are double-pumping and doing all of those things.”

The Huskies were led offensively by Baker, Armstead and forward Aksel Bolin, who all scored 10 points. Oswald was the lone scorer in double figures for the RedHawks with 10 points.