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HomeSportsUT
Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Rockets reach rock bottom

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo s Anthony Byrd , left, tries to swat away a shot from Wright State s Will Graham last night. Byrd had five points. Toledo s Anthony Byrd , left, tries to swat away a shot from Wright State s Will Graham last night. Byrd had five points.
TEESHA McCLAM Enlarge

FAIRBORN, Ohio If last night wasn t as bad as it gets this year for the University of Toledo, Rockets fans need to hunker down for a long, cold winter.

UT lost 50-35 to previously winless Wright State at the Nutter Center. A hodge-podge of 29 percent shooting and 26 turnovers led to the Rockets demise.

The defeat dropped the Rockets to 2-7, with 11 days until their next game as the schedule pauses for end-of-semester exams.

[The game] gives me so much ammunition to go into the next few days with to get our team better, UT coach Gene Cross said. Not just from a basketball standpoint, from a mental standpoint. It s going to be a very productive 11 days.

UT again couldn t score against a zone defense, mightily struggling to execute its motion offense. Tyrone Kent, who finished with a season-low three points, was blanketed throughout and only attempted four shots, the fewest for a game in the two seasons he s been a starter.

They bumped our guys off their cuts and we didn t make proper reads, and I put that on me for our guys not knowing where to go or making a certain read, Cross said. They did a good job of defending our guys and putting us out of our comfort zone.

Wright State s Scott Grote fights for position with Toledo s Tyrone Kent for a rebound last night at the Nutter Center. Wright State s Scott Grote fights for position with Toledo s Tyrone Kent for a rebound last night at the Nutter Center.
TEESHA McCLAM Enlarge

They made it hard on [Kent]. They did a very good job.

Wright State (1-6) also had trouble in its half-court offense, making just 1 of 19 3-pointers against UT s zone. But the Raiders could afford to miss a few when allowing the fewest points in school history.

A lot of people would say it s not pretty, but if you like defense, it was pretty, Wright State coach Brad Brownell said.

UT tied a season low with 16 points in the first half but was still in the game down four going into the break. A few 3-pointers from Ridley Johnson and one from Anthony Byrd kept the Rockets in the game at first.

Early in the second half, the Raiders went on a 9-0 run that essentially decided the game, with two baskets coming off turnovers. At that point Cross sat down seniors Byrd, Kent and Jonathan Amos and tried the combo of freshmen Clayton Sterling, Larry Bastfield and Ian Salter.

I needed to find someone who would come in and actually battle and give effort, Cross said. I didn t feel like some of those guys stepped up. I was trying to send a message but I also wanted to see what some of those other guys could do. I need to find out who s going to step up.

The group provided a brief spark but was too turnover-prone. Wright State scored 27 points off the Rockets miscues. UT had 15 offensive rebounds but just two second-chance points.

The Rockets perhaps showed the effects of two games in three days in the second half, or the frustration of getting nothing to go into the basket. Wright State stretched out its possessions in the second half with nine offensive rebounds in the quarter.

Once they got the rebound, some of us hung our heads a little bit, Johnson said. They either went to the foul line or scored. That killed us.

Amos led UT with nine points and Johnson added eight.

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



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