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From the opening moments of Wednesday night's game against Fort Valley State, there was little doubt that Miles would be able to do what it needed to get its 10th win of the season. The 73-43 victory was the Golden Bears' fourth straight win and third victory of at least 30 points this season.
But for a team that has prided itself as one of the best defensive squads in the country under head coach Fred Watson, the effort without the ball had to be just as satisfying as the final margin of victory. Miles (10-3, 5-1 SIAC West) held FVSU (2-11, 2-4 SIAC East) to under 30 percent shooting from the field - a season's best - dominated on the glass (42-30 rebound advantage) and tied a season-high with eight blocked shots in a wire-to-wire win at Knox-Windham Gymnasium.
The Golden Bears scored the first eight points of the game and lead 11-2 less than four minutes into the game. Brandon Miller scored the first five points before Truitt Spencer splashed 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. A 3-pointer from Roger Davis gave Miles a double-digit lead for the first time with eight-and-a-half minutes left in the opening half but the Wildcats were still within six points a minute later.
But Miles buried Fort Valley State with a defensive avalanche for the final seven minutes of the half. The Wildcats would not make another shot from the field, missing all eight attempts while turning the ball over twice. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears went to work on the other end, stringing together 13 consecutive points to take control. Miller (18 points, five rebounds, five assists) and Anthony Fairley were the catalysts, combining for the first 10 points and connecting for an alley-oop dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. When Mykayle Carter drained a 3-pointer with 2:11 left in the half, Miles led by 19 points. A late FVSU free throw broke up the run but the Golden Bears led 35-17 at the half as the Wildcats shot just 20 percent (5-of-25) from the field.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Miller and Joel Logan helped Miles open a 41-21 lead less than three minutes into the second half. The Wildcats would cut the deficit to 15 points before another big Miles run shut the door on any chances for a comeback. The Golden Bears would score 11 straight points, highlighted by a series that saw Yasim Hooker (10 points, nine rebounds) get the block on one end of the floor, then finish with a big dunk on the other end. Miles would lead by as many as 33 points in the second half to win going away.
K.J. Doucet (16 points) was the only player to score in double figures for Fort Valley State. Davis had 15 points and Fairley added 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks off the bench for Miles, which hosts Central State on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.