Rockets Move Into Second-Place Tie in West with 83-74 Win Over WMU

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 02/25/2012
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Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Sophomore F Matt Smith celebrates during tonight's 83-74 win over Western Michigan.

TOLEDO, OH - Toledo moved into a second-place tie in the MAC's West Division on Saturday evening with an 83-74 triumph over Western Michigan in front of a season-high 5,108 fans in Savage Arena. The Rockets (15-14, 6-8 MAC), who committed a season-low five turnovers (one in the second half), utilized a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring in double figures to earn the victory.

UT and WMU (12-17, 6-8 MAC) trail West leader Eastern Michigan (13-16, 8-6 MAC) by two games in the division standings. The Eagles will visit the Broncos on Wednesday, Feb. 29 before coming to Savage Arena for the 2:00 p.m. regular-season finale on Saturday, March 3. The Rockets will play at Northern Illinois on Wednesday prior to their contest vs. EMU.

Junior G Dominique Buckley topped UT offensively with 16 points and five assists and was joined in double figures by sophomore G Rian Pearson (15 pts., team-high 8 reb.), sophomore F Matt Smith (15 pts., 6 reb.), freshman G Julius Brown (14 pts., team-high seven asst.) and junior G Curtis Dennis (10 pts.).

Senior F Flenard Whitfield led four WMU players in double figures with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Both teams came out on fire offensively as UT took a 44-41 halftime lead thanks to a 58.6 first-half shooting mark. The Broncos were nearly as hot, converting 56.7 percent of their shot attempts.

Toledo appeared ready to take control of the contest when it scored 10 straight points for a 59-45 advantage with 14:38 to play. UT maintained a comfortable cushion for the next 10 minutes until the Broncos reeled off 11 unanswered points to climb within a point, 72-71, with 2:48 to play.

Brown and sophomore F Reese Holliday (nine points) responded with a pair of baskets to give the Rockets a 76-71 lead with 1:48 left. Following a Bronco free throw, Pearson nailed a pair from the charity stripe for a 78-72 edge with 58 ticks showing on the clock. Brown sealed the contest by knocking down two more free throws.

Toledo finished the game with a 48.4 FG%, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from behind the three-point arc. Western Michigan shot 49.2 percent but was just five-of-17 (29.4 percent) from long distance.

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