Kashif Payne of the Rockets drives against Dennis Springs of Ferris State in first-half action at Toledo's Savage Hall.
Defense was something of a mixed bag last night for the University of Toledo men's basketball team.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Ferris State's Bulldogs already had 18 turnovers, but were shooting 54 per cent on those possessions they completed and trailed by just four points.
So UT had trouble pulling away from its Division II opponent until Justin Ingram and Sammy Villegas heated up down the stretch to help produce a 67-55 victory at Savage Hall.
"At times we played real well and got a lot of turnovers, but there were also times we weren't real aggressive," Ingram said.
Neither he nor Villegas were surprised that Ferris State competed hard and kept it close until the final stretch.
"We were the highlight on their schedule," said Villegas, whose Rockets (4-2) are the only Division I team the Bulldogs will face this season. "They wanted to beat us bad and they played hard.
"They drove a lot and [our defense] helped too much, so they were able to kick it back out and got too many wide-open shots."
The Rockets led by just 49-45 until Ingram made two free throws with exactly 10:00 to play and followed with a 3-pointer. He then made a nice dish to Anton Currie for a layup that gave UT a double-digit lead.
Toledo's Allan Pinson, left, blocks a shot by Ferris State's Dennis Springs, right. Kashif Payne (10) is also in the play.
After a 3-pointer by Antwuan Holt gave the Bulldogs (5-3) a bit of hope, Villegas and Ingram each buried deep treys to put the game on ice.
Ingram had 10 of his team-high 13 points in the final 10 minutes while Villegas, who has been struggling and did not start, scored all of his 10 points over the last 13 minutes.
"All I can do is keep playing," said Villegas, who was shooting just 33 per cent entering the game. "The harder you play, something good might happen."
Ferris State, which had won five straight, proved that during much of the game.
UT coach Stan Joplin said the game was set up as a favor to Bulldogs coach Bill Sall, who wanted to arrange an appearance for senior point guard Dennis Springs in his hometown.
Springs, a Scott High product, was one of three Bulldogs to finish in double figures with 13 points and added seven assists.
"It was a chance to get another home game, so I figured, 'Hey, what the heck,' " Joplin said. "But I really hate playing Division II teams because they treat it as the biggest game on their schedule. And this particular Division II team happens to be pretty good.
"They can shoot the ball. They're smaller than us, but they can create mismatches when they take our bigger guys outside. Bottom line? We made enough plays to hold them off."
Allen Pinson had seven points in the first half to lead the Rockets to a 35-25 edge at intermission.
Playing for the first time in three games because of injury and illness, the 6-10 Pinson hit a 3-pointer just 15 seconds after entering the game, scored off of an offensive rebound, and dunked in transition after a fancy feed from Kashif Payne as the Rockets built a 22-12 lead.
NOTES: Freshman Tyrone Kent did not return after hurting his right ankle making an offensive rebound with 13:52 left in the first half. Joplin said he didn't believe it to be a serious injury. Tino Valencia did not start for the first time this season. He was replaced in the lineup by Currie, who has been battling back from off-season hernia surgery. Ingram has scored in double figures in all six UT games. Freshman Jonathan Amos had a career-high six rebounds as the Rockets beat a team on the boards (35-27) for the first time this season. With 1:07 to play, Sall pointed out to the officials that UT had been whistled for just two second-half fouls. The Ferris coach was assessed a technical for his effort.
Contact Dave Hackenberg at: email@example.com or 419-724-6398.
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