Tuesday, December 30, 1997
Miami loses MAC opener
Stars score, but support lacking

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - If you thought Wally Szczerbiak and Damon Frierson could carry Miami through the Mid-American Conference by themselves, guess again.

Bowling Green held Miami's Big Two down for a critical stretch in the second half to take control of the game and then held on to beat the RedHawks 72-59 Monday night at Anderson Arena in the MAC opener for both teams.

Frierson scored 26 points, and Szczerbiak had 20, but they had way too little help. Frierson and Szczerbiak combined for 35 of MU's first 40 points. They made 18-of-31 shots from the field; the rest of the team was a combined 4-for-21.

''We've got to get other people involved,'' MU coach Charlie Coles said. ''I don't think our inside guys played particularly well, but we've got to throw it in to them.''

Miami falls to 6-3 overall; BG is 4-5. But Coles wouldn't call the loss an upset.

''The league is different,'' Coles said. ''It's easy to play hard against Xavier. But in the league everyone's going to be spirited, like we were against Xavier. Bowling Green just outplayed us.''

New BG coach Dan Dakich is a Bobby Knight disciple and it shows. The Falcons play sound, man-to-man defense, fighting through screens and contesting every shot.

''We didn't get any good looks,'' Szczerbiak said. ''I was going long periods without even getting any touches. They were grabbing me, pushing, holding.''

Miami, which came in hitting 48.8 percent from three-point range, was 1-for-8.

''That was a clinic,'' Coles said. ''I think I can learn something from watching that tape. I see why Indiana's so good.''

Bowling Green ended the first half on a mini-run. When Anthony Stacey's three-pointer with time running out fell, the half ended tied at 30-all.

Stacey, BG's top returning player, had missed six games with an injured foot. But he came off the bench three minutes into the game and gave the Falcons a big boost, scoring 19 points while making 4-of-5 three-pointers.

''He comes out of the hospital and beats us,'' Coles said. ''I harped on him all week. I guess our guys didn't think he was that good.''

The game went back and forth until BG went on an 11-2 run to take a 53-46 lead with 7:37 to go. The key? BG began stopping Frierson on the dribble.

''They picked it up,'' Frierson said, ''and did a good job of helping out.''

BG also kept it out of Szczerbiak's hands, and no one else stepped up. Anthony Taylor tried, but he missed the first five shots he took, and finished with two points, 11 below his average.

''We have to get better,'' Coles said, ''because in the league everyone's going to play us like that.''

MIAMI (59) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Szczerbiak 40 8-15 3-3 0-3 1 3 20 Ensminger 26 1-2 2-2 1-4 1 4 4 Lethunya 21 0-3 0-0 0-3 0 2 0 Taylor 31 1-6 0-0 0-4 1 1 2 Frierson 39 10-16 6-7 1-2 4 2 26 Alexander 19 0-0 2-2 0-3 2 1 2 Lackaff 1 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 Estick 19 2-7 0-0 2-6 0 4 4 Locklier 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Allendorf 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 22-49 14-16 4-25 9 17 59 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.449, FT-.875. 3-Point Goals: 1-8, .125 (Szczerbiak 1-3, Lethunya 0-1, Taylor 0-2, Frierson 0-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 12 (Szczerbiak 6, Estick 2, Frierson 2, Lethunya 2). Steals: 5 (Alexander, Ensminger, Frierson, Szczerbiak, Taylor).

BOWLING GREEN (72) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Esterkamp 33 3-9 0-0 1-5 4 2 8 Reid 32 8-13 1-2 1-3 0 4 18 Cowan 31 3-6 7-9 0-5 0 1 13 Moore 21 5-10 3-4 0-2 5 4 14 Black 10 0-1 0-0 0-2 0 1 0 Keys 14 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 1 0 Chambers 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Crespo 24 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 2 0 Stacey 32 6-9 3-4 0-6 1 3 19 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 25-49 14-19 2-25 12 18 72 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.510, FT-.737. 3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (Esterkamp 2-7, Reid 1-3, Moore 1-4, Black 0-1, Chambers 0-1, Stacey 4-5). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 11 (Reid 3, Stacey 3, Moore 2, Crespo, Esterkamp). Steals: 3 (Esterkamp, Keys, Moore). __________________________________ Miami 30 29 - 59 Bowling Green 30 42 - 72 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 3,427. Officials: Jerry Sauder, John Tipton, Michael Smith.

Miami game coverage

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Miami 71, LaSalle 66 Dec. 13, 1997
Miami 80, Xavier 72 Dec. 10, 1997
Miami 85, Virginia Commonwealth 75 Dec. 7, 1997
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