The University of Toledo men’s basketball team opened its season with a scorching 98-87 win over the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s University.
It was hard to keep up with the fast-paced, high-scoring affair the Rockets found themselves in Nov. 11. UT shot 53 percent from the field, with third-year guard Jaelan Sanford scoring a career-high 31 points.
Offensively, production was off the charts, but the Rockets struggled defensively throughout. The team got out to an 18-4 start and looked to run away with the contest. The Hawks, however, kept battling and would eventually cut the score to 66-64 in the second half. From that point on, it was all Rockets.
After having its lead cut to two, Toledo went on a 18-6 run that gave the team an 84-70 lead with five minutes remaining that closed the game out. The Rockets hot shooting night will go down in the record books. The team hit 14 three-pointers.
A few statistics stuck out for the Rockets, and their 43-31 rebounding advantage over the Hawks proved crucial. The team also enjoyed 29 shots from the free throw line, hitting 24 of them. Not once did Toledo trail in the game.
Sanford’s performance was vital to success for the Rockets, as was third-year forward Nate Navigato’s performance. Navigato chipped in 22 points, hitting five three-point shots. Second-year center Luke Knapke also came through with 10 points and seven rebounds.
After the game, head coach Tod Kowalczyk said it was “a great win for our guys.” He cited the level of competition being one of the main indicators in the win.
“I thought we played extremely unselfish from start to finish” Kowalczyk said.
He also gave high praise to his junior class, who accounted for 58 of the Rocket’s 98 points.
The Rockets took on Ohio Northern University in Savage Arena last night, taking down the Polar Bears by a final score of 72-62.
Fourth-year forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher led the way for Toledo, dropping 27 points in the win. The Rockets’ three-point shooting wasn’t as good as it was in the opener, but knocking down seven of 26 was good enough for the win. Ohio Northern saw quantity over quality as a strategy behind the three-point line, putting up almost 35 three-point attempts in the game.
The first half started slow for the Rockets, with neither team able to gain a significant lead. Toledo had trouble getting any rebounds on defense, with ONU grabbing three offensive rebounds in one possession. The Polar Bears’ strategy of throwing up as many three-point shots as they could worked in the first half, with ONU gaining a 23-18 lead a little over halfway through the first half. Toledo managed to regain a lead of 36-35 going into halftime, but the Rockets D-III opponent was much closer than anticipated.
“Obviously a win, but disappointed with our energy tonight. I don’t think we had the same sense of energy or enthusiasm we had on Saturday.” Said Ko after the game.
Much of ONU’s first half success came from the monstrous amount of threes they put up. The Polar Bears were 9-24 from behind the line, while Toledo was 3-15. Fletcher led the way for the Rockets in the first half, putting up 15 points in 17 minutes.
The second half opened with a deep three-pointer from Fletcher, setting the tone for the rest of the game. ONU took an early timeout after a monster dunk from Knapke. ONU was able to cover some ground thanks to its leading scorer, fourth-year point guard Nate Burger. By the mid-point of the second half, Toledo had built a comfortable lead of 55-45. ONU started to knock down the shots that made the first half so close and got the score to within two deep in the second half. The Rockets were able to stave off the late game comeback and closed out the win, 72-62.
The Rockets take Oakland University as their next opponent; the game is set for this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Savage Arena.