BOWLING GREEN The Toledo Rockets had the lion locked in its cage last night, and made the mistake of letting it out.
With a dominant first half, UT had Anderson Arena, the House that Roars, eerily quiet. A flurry of steals and fast-break baskets allowed Toledo to build a 17-point lead, and took the life out of the MAC s most rabid crowd.
Whenever you play at home and get the crowd going, it s to your advantage, and we took their crowd out of the game in the first half, Toledo sophomore guard Justin Ingram said. We had them playing our way, and then we took a back seat and let them do whatever they wanted. The crowd got going and the game changed.
The Rockets high-energy approach led to 17 Bowling Green turnovers in that first half, and Toledo holding a double-digit lead for the last seven minutes of the first half. The Falcons staggered into the locker room down 34-17 at the break.
We had to come out and play aggressively, Bowling Green sophomore guard John Floyd said. We didn t play that way in the first half, but that s how we have fun playing aggressively. Playing passive is no fun.
Toledo coach Stan Joplin, who saw his team squander a big lead on the road for the third time in MAC play, said it was a sorry tale of two halves.
We played well in the first half, but in the second half we relaxed and made some mistakes and they got their confidence going, Joplin said. We didn t come out with the right mindset. We didn t come out aggressively, and that was the game.
The Rockets, one of the better defensive teams in the conference, saw Bowling Green shoot 76 percent in the second half, and outscore Toledo 53-35.
You have to have the mindset that you can t take a play off, Joplin said. You have to be aggressive all of the time.
CROWD ME: The 4,708 fans at Anderson Arena for last night s 70-69 Bowling Green win over Toledo got credit for an assist from BG guard Floyd, a product of St. John s Jesuit.
He said the raucous sold-out crowd came to life in the second half as BG turned its fortunes around dramatically, erasing a 17-point deficit and building a lead as big as eight.
Our crowd carried us a lot, Floyd said. When you only have 1,500 people out there, it s hard to get excited about it, but tonight the place was packed and they were really alive and loud in that second half. That crowd carried us to this victory.
POST MARKED: Toledo was without center Allen Pinson for the third straight game. The 6-9 sophomore suffered a concussion in the closing moments of a loss at Buffalo two weeks ago, and although he was expected to play, never got off the bench.
Backup 6-10 center Haris Charalambous did not play, either. The Rockets used 6-8 Kareem Milson and 6-5 Florentino Valencia to defend the post against BG.
1959 CHAMPS HONORED: During last night s game, Bowling Green honored its first MAC championship team in men s basketball, the 1958-59 Falcons that included former Scott High School head coach Ben Williams, former Kent State head coach and UT assistant coach Jim McDonald, and Jim Darrow, who ranks fifth on the Bowling Green career scoring list with 1,740 points. The Falcons went 18-8 that season, and won the MAC at 9-3. The late Harold Anderson, the winningest coach in Bowling Green history, coached the team.
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