Thursday, February 12, 1998
Wally struggles, Miami falls

BY DAVE HELLER
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - The truth about Miami University emerged Wednesday night. The RedHawks aren't assured of success just because Wally Szczerbiak is in the lineup.

Kent found a way to take both Szczerbiak and Damon Frierson out of the game, limiting the pair who came into the game averaging 44.4 points to nine and 10 points, respectively. As a result, the Golden Flashes beat Miami 58-52 to complete their first season sweep of the RedHawks since the 1986-87 season. It was also Kent's first win in Oxford since 1989.

With the win, Kent (10-14, 7-7 Mid-American Conference) slipped ahead of Miami (12-10, 6-8) in the league standings. The two teams came into the contest tied with Bowling Green, which lost to Akron, for the sixth seed. Only the top eight teams in the 12-team league make the postseason tournament.

''They (Kent) were fighting for a playoff spot,'' Miami coach Charlie Coles said. ''I think our guys thought they had it made.'' Miami won two straight at home with Szczerbiak in the lineup, but Kent coach Gary Waters took a page from a victory by Eastern Michigan by putting a smaller defender on Szczerbiak.

The strategy worked as 6-foot-2 Ed Norvell held the 6-8 Szczerbiak to nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Szczerbiak also committed eight turnovers. Szczerbiak came into the game averaging 24.9 points.

''In the first half we used a gimmick defense, in the second half I told Ed to shut him down,'' Waters said.

Coles wasn't as impressed with the way Norvell defended his star player.

''You can't hold a guy,'' Coles said. ''I may get in trouble for saying it, but I'll get out the tapes and show you.''

Norvell's biggest play came with 17 seconds left when, with Kent up by three, he took a charge right in front of the Miami bench, giving Szczerbiak his fifth foul, a call Coles didn't want to address.

''The refs had me playing completely scared,'' Szczerbiak said.

But Miami had lost the game before that foul. After Kent took a 45-42 lead with 9:58 to play, its first lead since the opening minutes of the game, Miami scored just 10 more points. After a Szczerbiak three closed the deficit to 49-48, the RedHawks missed their next eight shots and turned the ball over once as Kent extended its lead to six points.

''I couldn't get in the flow, others couldn't get in the flow,'' Szczerbiak said. ''They took us out of our game, the refs took us out of our game and things just went on a landslide.''

Anthony Taylor, who led Miami with 21 points, scored eight in a 12-2 run over the final 6:32 as the RedHawks took a 10-point lead into the half.

Some potential more bad news for Miami as Taylor went to the hospital after the game to have X-rays on his ankle. He was having circulation problems during the final minute of play.

Notebook: Seat on bench tough on Mestas

KENT (58) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Norvell 32 4-8 4-7 0-2 9 1 13 Perry 27 2-7 1-2 0-4 0 2 5 Whorten 26 4-8 0-0 1-3 0 4 8 Davis 21 0-1 1-2 1-2 1 0 1 Callaway 27 3-5 2-4 1-1 3 0 9 Effertz 15 2-4 2-2 0-3 0 4 7 Moore 14 2-3 0-0 0-2 1 0 4 Vaughn 14 1-3 0-0 2-6 0 1 2 Meers 24 3-7 0-0 0-2 0 0 9 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 21-46 10-17 5-25 14 12 58 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.457, FT-.588. 3-Point Goals: 6-12, .500 (Norvell 1-3, Davis 0-1, Callaway 1-2, Effertz 1-1, Meers 3-5). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Vaughn). Turnovers: 15 (Norvell 5, Davis 4, Callaway 2, Meers, Moore, Perry, Whorten). Steals: 12 (Callaway 3, Norvell 3, Whorten 2, Effertz, Meers, Perry, Vaughn).

MIAMI (52) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Estick 39 3-9 2-5 2-12 0 3 8 Szczerbiak 36 4-13 0-0 2-6 3 5 9 Ensminger 27 1-2 0-0 3-6 1 2 2 Taylor 36 9-12 1-2 1-2 1 1 21 Frierson 40 4-10 1-4 0-1 5 3 10 Lackaff 9 1-4 0-0 1-2 0 3 2 Lethunya 13 0-2 0-0 2-3 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 22-52 4-11 11-32 10 18 52 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.423, FT-.364. 3-Point Goals: 4-17, .235 (Estick 0-1, Szczerbiak 1-5, Taylor 2-4, Frierson 1-4, Lackaff 0-3). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3 (Szczerbiak 2, Estick). Turnovers: 20 (Szczerbiak 8, Taylor 4, Ensminger 3, Frierson 3, Estick, Lethunya). Steals: 6 (Frierson 2, Ensminger, Estick, Lackaff, Szczerbiak). __________________________________ Kent 24 34 - 58 Miami 34 18 - 52 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 3,210. Officials: Ricg Ames, Tom Grzywinski, Norm Nelson.

Miami game coverage

Miami 74, Northern Illinois 71 Feb. 8, 1998
Miami 73, Ball State 67 Feb. 6, 1998
Eastern Michigan 71, Miami 67 Feb. 1, 1998
Toledo 63, Miami 50 Jan. 30, 1998
Miami 73, Ohio 58 Jan. 25, 1998
Miami 71, Marshall 54 Jan. 22, 1998
Kent 66, Miami 65 Jan. 18, 1998
Akron 64, Miami 51 Jan. 15, 1998
Toledo 76, Miami 56 Jan. 11, 1998
Miami 72, Eastern Michigan 64 Jan. 9, 1998
Western Michigan 63, Miami 47 Jan. 6, 1998
Miami 81, Central Michigan 65 Jan. 4, 1998
Bowling Green 72, Miami 59 Dec. 30, 1997
Syracuse 72, Miami 53 Dec. 14, 1997
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