The Toledo Ice (12-10) kept pace in the playoff race by fighting off the Lake Erie Rockers 128-116 in front of nearly 300 at the SeaGate Centre last night.
The Ice remains third in the Freddie Lewis Division of the American Basketball Association behind Pittsburgh (13-8) and Indiana (15-1). The top two teams make it to the playoffs.
It took a fourth-quarter comeback to pull out the home win, but coach Melvin Newbern liked what he saw in the effort.
"I think we did a nice job in the fourth quarter and created some turnovers and we attacked when we came up with the rebounds," Newbern said. "Levy [Jones] did a great job in the middle creating space and we did a great job in throwing him the ball. We were big up top and they [Rockers] were small. We had to attack them underneath and get some easy ones."
Jones led the Ice with 23 points, while Aaron Bates added 20. Emeka Okonkwo dropped in 17, while Jamel Gooding and Jamel Staten contributed 16 and 15, respectively.
The Rockers started the second quarter on fire with a 9-2 run to extend their lead to 11 points, but the Ice answered with a 9-1 run of its own to cut Lake Erie's lead to three.
The Ice edged closer when Gooding scored to put the deficit at just one, but former St. Francis star and University of Toledo athlete Robierre Cullars buried a long 3-pointer.
The Ice scored the next six points for a 44-42 halftime lead.
In the fourth quarter, Lake Erie scored nine straight points, including seven from Thomas and built an 11-point lead, but Toledo scored the next eight.
Toledo's Gemeli Ahelegbe and Okonkwo posted 3-pointers to tie the score at 95 with 7:44 left in the contest.
Ahelegbe put the Ice on top with four minutes left after making two of three free throws following a foul and a technical foul on Lake Erie's Harvey Thomas.
The Ice scored the next eight points and cruised.
"On a scale of 10, in the first three quarters we played about a six or seven, but that fourth quarter we had to step it up to a 10," Jones said. "Overall I thought we played well; we overcame a lot of adversity and I am just happy we got the win."
Thomas scored a game-high 32 points for the Rockers, while Chet Mason and Jason Cornute added 27 apiece.
The Ice plays tomorrow when it hosts the first-place Alley Cats at 7 p.m.
Contact Adam Thompson at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
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