Rian Pearson's Career-High 30 Points Spark Rockets to 80-68 Win in Home Opener
TOLEDO, OH - Junior G Rian Pearson poured in a career-high 30 points and Toledo (2-4) pulled out an 80-68 triumph over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-4) in its home opener on Wednesday evening in Savage Arena.
Pearson, who registered career bests with 16 free throws and 20 free-throw attempts, tallied 18 points in the first half and took just one shot in the second stanza. He took over the Mid-American Conference's scoring lead and is now averaging 19.8 ppg.
Joining Pearson in double digits were sophomore G Julius Brown (16 pts., team-high six assists) and junior F Reese Holliday (season-high 12 pts., team-high eight rebounds).
Holliday also was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe and helped the Rockets sink a season-best 35 free throws in 46 attempts. A total of 59 fouls were called in the contest with 34 being whistled on the Islanders.
Sophomore G Johnathan Jordan topped the Islanders offensively with 22 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. UT limited Corpus Christi's leading scorer Will Nelson to eight points, nearly 10 points below his scoring average.
The Rockets shot 41.7 percent for the game, including a 53.3 mark in the first half. UT more than made up for its 22.2 FG% in the final 20 minutes by sinking 27-of-34 attempts from the free-throw line.
Toledo took control midway through the first half with a 14-3 run to take a 24-12 advantage at the 9:37 mark. The Rockets maintained control the rest of the period and took a 44-30 lead into intermission.
UT scored five quick points to open the second half on junior F Matt Smith's three-point bomb and freshman C Nathan Boothe's jumper and extended it to 59-37 following a pair of Holliday free throws with 12:22 remaining.
The Islanders whittled away at Toledo's lead and reduced their deficit to single digits at 69-60 with 5:04 to play. UT hit nine-of-10 free throws down the stretch thought to end any hopes of a Corpus Christi comeback.
Toledo returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 1 with a road tilt at Cleveland State (5-2). Tip-off time form the Wolstein Center is set for 2:00 p.m.