TOLEDO, OH - Too many turnovers proved costly for Toledo Saturday evening as the Rockets dropped a 77-61 decision to defending Mid-American Conference regular-season champion Kent State (14-6, 4-3 MAC). The contest was played before a season-high 4,720 fans in Savage Arena.
Sophomore G Rian Pearson led three Rockets in double figures with 22 points, marking his seventh 20-point outing of the season. Junior G Curtis Dennis and sophomore F Matt Smith each tallied 13 points for Toledo (10-11, 2-5 MAC) with Dennis also contributing a team-high five assists and four steals.
Pearson, Smith and sophomore F Reese Holliday each grabbed seven rebounds to help UT register a 32-31 advantage on the glass. But that work on the boards was offset by 19 turnovers (12 in second half), Toledo's most miscues since its season opener vs. Texas State.
Junior F Chris Evans paced the Golden Flashes with a career-high 23 points, six rebounds and four steals. Reigning MAC Player of the Year Justin Greene scored 14 points, while senior G Michael Porrini added 14 points and a game-high eight assists.
Kent State shot 52.9 percent from the field and topped the 50 percent mark in each half. UT was limited to a 39.0 FG%, including a season-low 1-of-16 effort from behind the three-point arc.
Trailing 38-33 early in the second half, the Rockets committed six straight turnovers and were suddenly staring at a 46-33 deficit with just over 15 minutes remaining in the contest. The closest UT was able to come the remainder of the game was 10 points, 60-50, with 8:33 to play.
Toledo opened the contest on fire, scoring the game's first six points to force a KSU timeout. The Golden Flashes quickly answered with a 10-0 spurt though and maintained their lead until Dennis' alley-oop pass led to a Pearson dunk to knot the score at 24 with 4:31 to play in the opening stanza. The visitors wouldn't let the Midnight Blue and Gold build any momentum unfortunately, thanks to a 6-0 burst that Dennis nearly nullified with five straight points of his own.
Porrini's layup with eight seconds remaining in the half provided Kent State a 35-31 cushion at intermission.
Toledo will now look to regroup when it visits MAC East Division leader Akron (14-7, 6-1 MAC) on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Tip-off time is set for 7:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on SportsTime Ohio.