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UT faces Michigan MAC schools

 

The Rocket men’s basketball team fell to Eastern Michigan on the road 85-79 before defeating Central Michigan 89-76 on Feb. 23. UT is now 20-9 (12-4 MAC) this season. 
Toledo played well in the first half against EMU but a strong shooting second half led the Eagles to victory.  
Fourth-year guard Tre’shaun Fletcher led the offense with 21 points followed by third-year guard Jaelen Sanford with 16 points. 
A pair of third-year big men, Elijah Minnie and James Thompson IV, led the Eagles, both scoring 23 points. 
“Our ball movement was very good in the first half and then in the second half our offensive flow wasn’t as good,” said head coach Tod Kowalczyk. “Eastern Michigan is a good team with great athletes and good finishers and was able to get some easy baskets in transition.”
UT came out strong in the first half, controlling the tempo and scoring well. A three-point play by second-year center Luke Knapke capped off a 13-2 run by the Rockets to give them a 28-16 lead. 
Turnovers allowed EMU to get back in the game as UT turned it over on three out of four possessions. The Eagles turned them all into points and cut the deficit to six with 6:54 left in the half. 
They cut it to a low two, but Sanford answered with a big-time three of his own to give UT a 44-39 lead with 1:54 to go. Each team scored one more basket and Toledo led 46-41 at halftime. 
Eastern Michigan did not take long to get on top in the second half, they took their first lead with 17:28 left in the game. 
UT answered quickly to regain a three-point lead, but Thompson and Minnie set the tone for the Eagles with two huge dunks to cap off an 8-0 run and put them ahead by eight. 
The Rockets were aggressive in getting to the free throw line but failed to convert the opportunities into points. EMU continued to score, and a three by Minnie put them ahead by 11. 
UT managed to score a couple of buckets at the end, but it was too late.
 “We have a tremendously resilient team, and we’ll be fine. It’s the first time we’ve faced any real adversity in conference play, and I’m confident that our guys will bounce back,” Kowlaczyk said. 
They returned to Savage Arena to battle Central Michigan. The Rockets won this game thanks to their outstanding shooting, trailing for just 50 seconds the entire game.
Fletcher led the way again, scoring a game-high 28 points and compiling a career-high nine assists. Sanford added 23 points including five three pointers. Third-year forward Nate Navigato added 14 points, shooting four of six from the three-point line. 
CMU was also led by a pair of 20-point scorers, Cecil Williams scored 25 and Shawn Roundtree put in 20. 
Toledo shot 55 percent from the field and 60 percent from behind the three-point line. 
“Central Michigan is a hard team to defend because they have so many good shooters on the perimeter. I thought we did a great job by just not over-helping,” Kowalczyk said after the game. “Central can beat you with its three-point shooting, and we held their top three shooters to a combined five points.”
The Rockets scored the first eight points of the game, but the Chippewas answered with nine straight points of their own. 
A three-pointer by Sanford gave UT a five-point lead with 14:14 left in the first half. First-year guard Marreon Jackson added a triple of his own to put Toledo up by eight, their largest lead of the half with 2:50 left.
Sanford slammed down a monster dunk at the end of first half; UT led 44-39 at halftime. 
Sanford hit a three a couple minutes into the second half followed by a stolen inbounds pass by Fletcher. He was fouled as he went up for a dunk; Toledo went ahead 63-50 with 14:16 remaining in the game. 
Roundtree dropped a dime to Williams for a layup to cut the CMU deficit to eight, but that is the lowest it would get. 
The Rockets continued to shoot the three-ball well to keep their lead and won the game 89-76. 
The midnight blue and gold return to the court Feb. 27 against Northern Illinois with a chance to clinch the MAC West title. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. 
the field and 60 percent from behind the three point line. 
“Central Michigan is a hard team to defend because they have so many good shooters on the perimeter. I thought we did a great job by just not over-helping,” Kowalczyk said after the game,”Central can beat you with its three-point shooting, and we held their top three shooters to a combined five points.”
The Rockets scored the first eight point of the game but the Chippewas answered with nine straight points of their own. 
A three pointer by Sanford gave UT a five point lead with 14:14 left in the first half. First-year guard Marreon Jackson added a triple of his own to put Toledo up by eight, their largest lead of the half with 2:50 left.
Sanford them down a monster dunk at the end of first half, UT led 44-39 at halftime. 
Sanford hit a three a couple minutes into the second half followed by a stolen inbounds pass by Fletcher. He was fouled as he went up for a dunk, Toledo went ahead 63-50 with 14:16 remaining in the game. 
Roundtree dropped a dime to Williams for a layup to cut the CMU deficit to eight but that is the lowest it would get. 
The Rockets continued to shoot the three ball well to keep their lead and won the game 89-76. 
The midnight blue and gold return to the court Feb. 27 against Northern Illinois with a chance to clinch the MAC West tittle. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. 
 

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