MIAMI — Rusty Mercer wondered if his Miami Wardogs would have anything left in the tank after playing three games in four nights.
The Dogs responded well.
A 24-7 explosion over the final eight minutes capped off a blue-collar 59-35 win over Kansas Friday, Jan. 5, at the MAC.
“I was proud we were able to bounce back after an emotional and physically draining win last night (a 52-43 victory at Seneca Thursday, Jan. 3),” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “I don’t think we had a lot of gas in the tank to start, but I think our guys really dug down deep and found something there.
“Once we got going, we were in pretty good shape and we handled the end of the game much better tonight than we did last night, even though we won last night. We did some shaky things.”
After 10 lead changes in the first 13 minutes, the Wardogs took the lead for good with 2:55 left in the half by Kai Hamilton gave Miami the lead for good.
The Wardogs were up by eight at the break, but only three heading into the final stanza.
A 24-3 run in the fourth quarter helped Miami nail down its fifth win (5-5). The Dogs scored the final 17 points of the game.
“They have some guys that can really put the ball on the floor and penetrate. They have a lot of speed and quickness. That concerned me early,” Mercer said. “But we were able to slow them down a little with our zone. When we went to man, we had them in position to where they might have gotten a little worn down.”
Miami forced the Comets into 12 turnovers.
The Wardogs went to the free throw line 10 times in the fourth quarter and converted on nine of those.
On the night, Miami was 18 of 20 from the stripe.
Kansas found the mark on only 3 of 17 2-point attempts and drained 7 of 20 treys.
By comparison, the Wardogs shot 44 percent from the field (16 of 36).
“That was a little misleading because late in the first and first part of the second quarter, we couldn’t buy a basket,” Mercer said.
The Dogs launched 12 3-point attempts, converting on three.
“Usually when we keep our 3s at 12 to 15, we are pretty efficient offensively,” Mercer said. “When we get 3-happy, that is where we get into trouble.”
Eli Lewis came off the bench to score 18 points for the Dogs.
Kia Hamilton joined him in double figures with 17.
Accounting for the remainder of Miami’s points were Drew Williams with nine, Eli Chenoweth six, Conner Womack five and Kaleb Jinks four.
Christian Glass scored 11 for the Comets (6-4).
That was the fewest points Kansas has scored in the season.
“At times I thought we gave up too many offensive boards, but overall we did well (holding a 24-20 edge),” Mercer said.
Miami travels to Vinita on Tuesday, Jan. 9. The Wardogs notched a 68-31 win when the teams played in Miami on Dec. 12.