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Jeff Eisenberg

Game-winning 3-pointer caps Miami (Ohio) rally from down 20

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

Even trailing Eastern Michigan by 20 points five minutes into the second half on Saturday night, Miami (Ohio) players insist they believed a comeback was still possible.

"I remember Nick (Winbush) told us, 'This team doesn't know how to win. We're not out of it,'" freshman forward Jon Harris said by phone. "Our goal was to chip away each four minutes. We were playing hard and we were getting stops, but we just couldn't make a shot. We knew if we could put some points on the board, we could come back."

The burst of offense the RedHawks needed to launch their unlikely rally came from four 3-pointers from Harris in the final 133 seconds. The last of the four was a wide-open go-ahead shot from the corner with two seconds left, giving Miami (Ohio) a 58-56 victory in a game it had never led prior to that point.

"The whole year I'd been struggling with my jump shot, but coach kept telling me to keep shooting and I'd hit the next one," Harris said. "I used that as motivation. I saw one go down and I got my confidence back up."

To say that Harris had been struggling from 3-point range prior to Saturday would be a huge understatement. The 6-foot-8 freshman was only averaging 6.8 minutes per game and had hit just 1 of 15 3-pointers on the season.

Harris' 14-point outburst almost went for naught because Eastern Michigan's Derrick Thompson sank a 30-footer at the buzzer as a time expired. Officials initially ruled the shot counted but then disallowed it after watching replays, ensuring that the RedHawks' comeback wasn't wasted.

By avoiding a disappointing road loss at Eastern Michigan (6-16, 3-6), Miami (Ohio) remains in a second-place tie in the stronger MAC East, a half game behind first-place Kent State. The RedHawks (11-12, 6-3) have winnable games up next against Northern Illinois and Toledo before a potential showdown with the Golden Flashes on Feb. 16.

"We only won two road games last year, and now we've won two in a row," Harris said. "It shows us we can win on the road even if we get down. Hopefully we can keep fighting and win the MAC."

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