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Published: Monday, 2/18/2008

Ball State dumps UT; Rockets suffer 16th straight road defeat

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
<br>
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MUNCIE, Ind. - Stan Joplin and his coaching staff have found no solutions for the University of Toledo's problems on the road this season. After yesterday's loss to Ball State, he posed a facetious theory to his team.

"He was frustrated, and he just said it seems like we don't want to win when we're away," junior Ridley Johnson said. "Everyone does want to win. We've just got to come out and show it. Everything's the same in practice, we come out and work hard and it's the same results."

The Rockets fell 59-52 at Worthen Arena for their 16th straight road loss and 15th this season.

Tyrone Kent had 18 points and Jonathan Amos added 10 for the Rockets, who dropped to 8-16, 5-7 in the Mid-American Conference.

It's the first time in 13 months that Ball State (5-19, 4-8) has won consecutive games. The Rockets lost for the first time in six games this year when allowing less than 60 points.

The Rockets average 34 percent shooting on the road in MAC games, but didn't even hit that yesterday, hitting 33.3 percent of their shots.

"I thought we had good-looking shots," Joplin said. "We can't get the ball inside any better than what we did. We had chances, we just didn't make the plays like we do at home. Ball State hung in there and found a way to win."

UT would have trailed by double digits at the half for the fourth straight game were it not for Corey Bingham's banked-in halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer.

Eleven minutes into the game, neither team had reached double figures in scoring. UT started 1-of-10 from the floor and had 13 first-half turnovers, leading to 14 Ball State points. The Rockets' first basket didn't come until Amos made a 3-pointer at the 12:56 mark of the period.

But the Rockets were only down 20-18 with 2 1/2 minutes left before halftime. At that point the Cardinals grabbed the first real momentum in the game with a flurry of unlikely 3-pointers.

Freshman Melvin Goins hit two straight 25-foot shots at the end of the shot clock, and then Stovall made a 3 from the corner after a scramble for the ball.

"It really hurt us," Johnson said. "There was nothing we could do. We expected [Goins]) to shoot it, and it just went in."

UT threatened early in the second half, pulling to within four on Johnson's 3-pointer 3 1/2 minutes in. But Peyton Stovall answered with a 3 of his own and the Rockets never got closer than five points after that.

Stovall led three Ball State players in double figures with 15 points. Goins had 14 and Anthony Newell had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Goins had six steals, many of them coming while he guarded Kent. Kent committed six turnovers and had a hard time getting the Rockets into their offense. UT had 18 turnovers overall.

"I really loved our attention to detail and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor," Ball State coach Billy Taylor said. "I thought our guards did a good job of pressuring the basketball, starting with Melvin and Peyton up top."

The Rockets were sloppy when they had fastbreak opportunities, turning the ball over or missing layups. UT had no fastbreak points.

"It's tough to say the least," Joplin said. "It's so hard for us to get easy baskets. That's the frustrating part, the shots are there, we just don't do the little things."

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Jeff Teague scored 26 points and Wake Forest shocked No. 2 Duke 86-73 last night, ending the Blue Devils' 12-game winning streak and giving first-year coach Dino Gaudio his first big victory as the heir of the late Skip Prosser's program.

James Johnson added 24 points for the Demon Deacons.

Freshman Nolan Smith scored a season-high 21 points for Duke.

No. 6 UCLA 56, Southern California 46

LOS ANGELES - Darren Collison scored 14 points and Kevin Love added 13 as UCLA remained atop the Pac-10 standings by a half-game.

No. 20 Notre Dame 71, Rutgers 68.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Tory Jackson had 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds as Notre Dame handed Rutgers its sixth straight loss.



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