The Toledo men’s basketball team fell just short of an amazing comeback victory as it was defeated by Cornell University 80-77. The Rockets are 3-2 early in the season.
Third-year forward Nate Navigato led the way for UT, scoring 22 points, and fourth-year guard Tre’Shaun Fletcher added 20 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and five assists.
Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings led the Big Red in scoring with 24 and 21 points, respectively.
Both teams enjoyed success from behind the three-point line. The Rockets knocked down 11 and Cornell shot 12 for 28 on three-pointers.
"Our intensity to start the game wasn't good enough, and Cornell took advantage of that," said head coach Tod Kowalczyk.
During the first five minutes, the teams were even, with Cornell holding a slight 10-9 lead. But Morgan knocked down a three-pointer to give CU a two-point lead. That move started a run that saw the lead grow as big as six.
The teams battled back and forth for the better part of the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Rockets regained the lead with nine minutes left in the first half on a triple by Navigato. However, Cornell took control near the end of the half and, after being tied at 30, the team rattled off nine straight points.
A layup by Wil Bathurst with 22 seconds remaining in the half gave Cornell a 46-35 advantage. Both Navigato and third-year guard Jaelen Sanford missed three-pointers to end the half.
Cornell came out of the locker room on fire as Morgan knocked down a three, Steve Julian blocked a shot and Stone hit a three of his own to push the lead to 52-35 just two minutes into the second half.
Another triple by Morgan stretched the margin to 21, Cornell’s largest lead of the game. Toledo responded immediately with a 13-0 run capped off by two layups by Fletcher, including an old fashion three-point play to make it 67-59.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Navigato and Sanford cut the lead to 76-71, but they gave up a quick layup on the other end to push the lead back to seven. Sanford returned the favor with another triple.
Navigato missed a three, but Morgan turned the ball over and UT called a timeout. Navigato got another shot that he did not miss and cut the score 78-77 with 14 seconds remaining.
"We didn't defend their ball screen the way we wanted to, and that's something we need to correct in practice,” Kowalczyk said. “This was a disappointing loss for us, especially after the way we played in our first four games of the season.”
Morgan hit both free throws to make it a three-point game before Fletcher was fouled with three seconds left. Fletcher missed the free throw, but the Rockets could not attempt to tie the game as the clock ran out.