TOLEDO, OH - Toledo made a valiant second-half comeback attempt on Saturday evening but it wasn't enough in a 72-62 setback to Eastern Illinois in Savage Arena. It was the season opener for both squads as well as the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
"Eastern Illinois started to take control of the game midway through the first half and that's when we became a little stagnant and lost some confidence," Toledo Head Coach Gene Cross said. "It took us a little while to get going again, but when we did we looked like a pretty good basketball team. We gave up too many easy baskets tonight and turned the ball over recklessly, and you don't give yourself a good chance to win when you do that."
Redshirt freshman G Stephen Albrecht led the Rockets offensively with 15 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds in 35 minutes action. Junior F Justin Anyijong also was in double figures with 11 points and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore G Larry Bastfield dished out a career-best six assists and scored five points in a 38 minutes.
Sophomore G Jeremy Granger led the Panthers with a career-high 21 points, including 3-of-4 from three-point range and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Both teams shot a respectable percentage from the field, with UT hitting 46.5 percent of its shots compared to EIU's 49.0 percent mark. Three-point shooting was even with the Rockets knocking down 8-of-20 and the Panthers hitting 4-for-10 from 3-point range.
Toledo nearly came back from a 13-point deficit with just over nine minutes remaining in the contest. Albrecht began the spurt with four straight free throws and then teamed with Anyijong to hit back-to-back treys to make it a three-point game, 52-49, with seven minutes to play.
UT was able to remain within striking distance until a 6-0 Panther run put the Rockets down 10 points, 64-54, with two minutes remaining.
Foul trouble and turnovers plagued the Rockets. Junior F Mouhamed Lo fouled out with eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes, while freshman G Jake Barnett tallied nine points and was on the court for just 19 minutes.
UT also committed 21 turnovers with the Panthers having just 11 miscues en route to a 29-10 advantage in the points off turnovers department.
"We're a young team and you expect to have some growing pains," Cross said. "This was our first game, and we're a young group. I feel like we're getting better. I'm happy with our progress but I'm not happy with tonight's result.
The Rockets will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with a trip down I-75 to battle Big East foe Cincinnati. Tip-off time is set for 7:30 p.m.