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HomeSportsUT
Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2001

Rockets fuss then fall

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

CINCINNATI - University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins probably is happy that Toledo doesn't appear on any of his team's future schedules.

The pesky Rockets, who upset the Bearcats last year in Cleveland, battled Cincinnati tough again this time around before falling 68-55 last night in a non-conference game before 10,212 at the Shoemaker Center.

Leonard Stokes scored 19 points and Jamaal Davis and Steve Logan added 15 each as Cincinnati (6-1) won its sixth straight home game with the school's most famous basketball player - NBA Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson - watching from courtside.

The Bearcats also improved their home record to 89-8 in the past six seasons.

“I didn't like much,” Huggins said. “I think we started out all right defensively and all of a sudden we stopped playing. We were very selfish offensively. It was not a good showing for the Bearcats tonight.”

The Rockets battled the Bearcats even for the first 14 minutes, but Cincinnati outscored Toledo 51-38 the rest of the way.

UC, which had outscored its last five opponents by an average margin of 29.6 points, shot 34.4 percent from the field (21 of 61) and 9.1 percent (1 of 11) from 3-point range.

“We can't play like this anymore or we're going to lose,” Stokes said.

Toledo, playing its first of five straight road games, had its two-game winning streak snapped while falling to 3-4.

The Rockets, who shot 65.4 percent in beating Youngstown State on Saturday at home, shot just 35 percent from the field last night (21 of 60) and 25 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 20).

The Rockets also made just 8 of 14 free throws while Cincinnati made 25 of 31.

“We're disappointed that we didn't come up with the win,” UT coach Stan Joplin said.

“We were right there with them. We did everything we wanted to do. Our guys did a good job of keeping them off the boards. But we didn't make our free throws and that was the big difference.”

Point guard Terry Reynolds, nursing a pulled hamstring, led UT with 17 points, but he was just 5-of-14 shooting. Keith Triplett (Bowsher) had 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Toledo, which plays at Detroit Saturday, trailed 30-22 at halftime and by as many as 19 in the second half before mounting a late rally.

The Bearcats scored 25 points off 18 Toledo turnovers. Cincinnati also had 19 second-chance points to the Rockets' six.

“I think we played pretty good,” Reynolds said. “They got too many second chances and they got to the free-throw line more than us.”

Triplett picked up two fouls within the first 1:31 of the game. Triplett fouled Stokes after Stokes hit a jumper. Stokes converted the three-point play, then delivered a dunk a short time later.

Immanuel McElroy (14 points) followed that up with a reverse, spinning layup that gave the Bearcats a 7-2 lead.

Toledo guard Nick Moore, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, then scored seven of his team's next nine points - hitting two short jumpers and a 3-pointer - as the Rockets went on a 9-4 run to pull within two points at 13-11 with 12:23 remaining.

Toledo tied the game at 17 when Ricardo Thomas fought his way inside for a layup with 7:53 left.

Huggins immediately called a timeout to chew out the Bearcats for their lackluster play.

After two quick turnovers by the Rockets - freshman Jim Clement was called for traveling and Thomas was whistled for an offensive foul for charging - McElroy hit a tough turnaround jumper on the baseline to put the Bearcats back on top at 19-17 with 6:10 remaining.

UT freshman Kareem Milson missed two free throws and a short turnaround jumper, either of which could have tied the game.



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