Miami University guard Will Sullivan couldn’t miss in the first half Wednesday night against the University of Akron. He might as well have been tossing basketballs into the Grand Canyon.
That changed, however, with the game on the line and the host RedHawks (11-15, 7-8 in Mid-American Conference) up 62-61 with 20 seconds left.
After Sullivan missed the front end of a 1-and-1 foul situation, the Zips (17-11, 9-6) still had a chance to win.
Instead, they suffered the fate that plagued them all night — a lack of offensive flow — and ran a play that got nowhere near the hoop. In the end, the Zips fell 65-61 for their third consecutive loss.
Guard Deji Ibitayo led the Zips with 14 points, including four three-point shots, while forward Demetrius Treadwell had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Nyles Evans contributed three 3-pointers to add some outside shooting to the Zips offense.
Sullivan and RedHawks teammate Will Felder led all scorers with 16 points each for the Redhawks. Sullivan was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring 15 points.
The Zips were down by 13 points in the second half against the RedHawks and fought their way back to tie the game after two Kwan Cheatham free throws with 5:50 left in the game.
It represented the closest they got to the RedHawks since the 7:24 mark of the first half when they led 14-13.
Both teams struggled offensively. The Zips shot 24 percent and Miami shot 26 percent during the first half.
That fact made for an obvious conclusion: Whichever team found any semblance of offensive flow was going to win it.
That proved to be the RedHawks as they cranked it up to shoot 50 percent from the floor in the second half, but just 38 percent from the floor.
Defense wasn’t the problem for the Zips given that number. Offense proved to be the primary problem as UA couldn’t assemble much in the way of flow, despite forward Nick Harney returning from suspension.
Unable to practice with his teammates, the rust showed as Harney hit on just 2-of-8 shots.
Getting him in playing form will be a priority for Zips coach Keith Dambrot as UA plays its remaining three games at home.
The Zips also eagerly await the return of wingmen Reggie McAdams (mononucleosis) and Jake Kretzer (concussion).
Right now, the Zips need to put together some victories and get some help from other teams to ensure that UA secures at least the fourth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.