Sunday, December 7, 1997
Miami's rights outweigh wrongs
RedHawks take out VCU 85-75

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

miami
Wally Szczerbiak passes to Damon Frierson.
(Saed Hindash photo)
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OXFORD - Miami's 85-75 victory over Virginia Commonwealth Saturday afternoon showed what's right and what's wrong with the RedHawks.

Right: Wally Szczerbiak and Damon Frierson. MU's dead-eye duo, combined for 58 points and made nine-of-14 three-point attempts.

Wrong: The RedHawks aren't deep. Szczerbiak and Frierson played 40 minutes. When they got tired, VCU was able to make the final score closer than it should have been.

''I've got to find a way to rest them,'' MU coach Charlie Coles. ''When I do, I'm going to cry because those guys are so good.''

Right: Miami's three-guard offense takes great care of the ball. The RedHawks burned VCU's press and only turned the ball over nine times.

Wrong: Miami is inexperienced inside. That's how VCU cut the lead from 27 to 10 with 3:40 left.

But at the that point, Szczerbiak, who had 31 points, made a three-pointer. ''Right after a timeout,'' VCU coach Sonny Smith said, ''and we knew it was coming.''

After VCU answered, Frierson, who had 27 points and seven assists, made a pull-up jumper to make it 83-70 with 1:49 to go.

At that point, the crowd of 3,140 at Millett Hall could relax. The RedHawks (4-1) had their fourth straight win and 21st straight at Millett. VCU is 2-3.

Miami won this one early. The RedHawks made their first five threes and led by 15 at 29-16 midway through the first half.

''We played as good as we could in the first half right until the end,'' Coles said.

Miami led by 21 with 32 seconds left but allowed VCU to score the final four points of the half.

''I've got to learn to coach with a lead,'' Coles said. ''I never expected to have these kind of leads with this team. When were up nine against Tennessee, I said, 'Where am I at? Earlham College.' I didn't know what to do.''

A lot of VCU's comeback had to do with fatigue.

''They were big and strong,'' Frierson said. ''That takes a toll on you.''

Said Coles: ''That was physically the strongest team we've faced. Not the best, but the strongest.''

VCU also started playing more aggressively.

''They're a good team,'' Szczerbiak said. ''When you're down 20, you start playing loose.''

VCU punched the ball inside, and its big men Mylo Brooks (21 points) and Torrance Archie (12) were able to score against Miami's big men John Estick and Refiloe Lethunya, both of whom are playing their first year at MU.

''I think our big men progressed every game,'' Coles said. ''But I didn't see that tonight.''

VCU outrebounded Miami 33-26, and Lethunya (8) and Estick (2) only combined for 10 points, despite a lot of chances.

''We have the confidence throwing it in there,'' Szczerbiak said. ''It's just a matter of experience. They're going to be good players.''

Notebook

   VCU         m fg at ft at  r a  f to tp
   Kodjoe     31  3  7  0  0  7 0  3  4  8 
   Archie     18  5  9  2  2  2 1  4  2 12 
   Brooks     28  8 14  5  5  3 2  1  1 21 
   Lilly      30  2  5  0  0  1 3  3  0  6 
   Drake       6 10  3  3  5  5 7  4  6 15 
   Hoggatt    18  0  5  0  0  1 0  0  0  0 
   Moore      17  1  2  2  4  5 1  2  0  4 
   Mills      26  4  9  0  0  5 1  0  0  9 
   Totals    200 29 61 12 14 33 15 17 13 75 
   Team Rebounds- 1.
   
   Miami       m fg at ft at  r a  f to tp 
   Estick     20  1  3  0  0  4 0  3  1  3 
   Szczerbiak 40 11 16  3  5  3 2  3  0 31 
   Lethunya   30  3  6  2  4  5 0  2  0  8 
   Taylor     36  4  8  2  2  5 0  1  2 11 
   Frierson   40 11 10  2  2  2 7  1  5 27 
   Mestas     19  1  1  0  0  1 5  1  1  3 
   Locklier    3  1  1  0  2  1 0  0  0  2 
   Allendorf   4  0  0  1  2  0 0  0  0  1 
   Ensminger   8  0  0  0  0  0 0  1  0  0 
   Totals    200 32 54 10 17 26 20 12 9 85 
   Team Rebounds- 3.
   
   VA Commonwealth   30  45 - 75
   Miami             47  38 - 85
    
 
Attendance- 3,140. 3-point goals- VC- (5-18) Patrick 2-4, Brooks 0-2, Lilly 2-4, Hoggatt 0-5, Mills 1-3; Miami- (11-18) Szczerbiak 6-9, Taylor 1-3, Frierson 3-5, Mestas 1-1.

Miami game coverage

Miami 102, IUPUI 75 Dec. 2, 1997
Miami 66, Wisconsin-Green Bay 46 Nov. 26, 1997
Miami 94, Dayton 86 Nov. 23, 1997
Tennessee 75, Miami 74 Nov. 18, 1997