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HomeSportsUT
Published: Monday, 12/8/2008

Rockets never shoot a free throw in loss at Oakland

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ROCHESTER, Mich. - In most ways yesterday, the University of Toledo matched up evenly with the Oakland Grizzlies in their building.

The difference for the Rockets in their 67-58 loss was when Oakland wasn't knocking down shots, the Grizzlies drove into the lane and drew fouls. OU made 16 of 22 free throws, but UT settled for jump shots and didn't get to the free-throw line once.

"They did a good job of taking us out of our offense and making us stand around," UT coach Gene Cross said. "The second half we made some adjustments, but we dug ourselves too deep a hole and they were too good at what they do."

UT fell to 2-6. The Rockets had a season-low 13 turnovers, but fell behind by 10 early and couldn't hold onto a brief second-half lead. The game was tied at 46 with six minutes to play in the O'Rena, but Oakland scored on 13 of its final 14 possessions.

Senior guard Erik Kangas hit several big shots for the Grizzlies and finished with 22 points. He made three of OU's five 3-pointers in the second half, going over 1,000 points for his career in the first half.

"He's a really good shooter; there were a couple times I had a hand right in his face, and he just knocked it down," UT

senior Anthony Byrd said.

Byrd tried to match him, making four 3s to finish with 12 points. Jonathan Amos had 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Rockets.

Tyrone Kent came off the bench for the first time this season, leading UT with 13 points. Cross didn't specify what led to Kent not starting for the first time in 38 games.

"If there's a breach or there's a rules violation, you will pay a consequence," Cross said. "It was a coach's decision."

UT fell behind 11-2 and 16-6 in the opening minutes. Oakland (5-5) brought a lot of pressure, and the Rockets couldn't get any good looks against the Grizzlies' matchup zone defense.

"We came out pretty slow," Byrd said. "We didn't bring the energy that we need to, that we usually do when we're at home and they smacked us around a little bit at the beginning. We tried to answer, but they were just a little bit too much for us."

Despite UT's offensive problems, Oakland wasn't making much and the Rockets were down nine at the half. To start the second half UT scored the first seven points, and the Grizzlies didn't have a basket until six minutes into the period. UT took its first lead at the 14:52 mark on a Byrd 3-pointer.

Oakland was able to get the ball inside, though, to 6-foot-11 sophomore Keith Benson (17 points, nine rebounds). Benson made 7 of 9 free throws, and Johnathon Jones hit 7 of 8. Meanwhile UT drew just 10 fouls and didn't get into the bonus in either half.

"I don't know if I have ever seen that in my career," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "It probably means we weren't that aggressive on defense."

Kent's alley-oop on a Byrd pass tied the game with six minutes remaining. Oakland responded with two free throws from Benson and a Kangas 3, and the Rockets couldn't overcome another deficit.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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