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HomeSportsUT
Published: Sunday, 12/6/2009

Barnett guides Rockets past UMBC

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo's Jake Barnett, left, fights for a rebound with the Retrievers' Robbie Jackson, right, Saturday afternoon at Savage Arena. Toledo's Jake Barnett, left, fights for a rebound with the Retrievers' Robbie Jackson, right, Saturday afternoon at Savage Arena.
JEREMY WADSWORTH / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Just like any good captain, Jake Barnett was there for his team when it needed him most.

The University of Toledo's lead over Maryland-Baltimore County was down to 41-38 with 14:20 remaining when Barnett checked back into the game for the Rockets.

UT responded with a 14-5 run over the next 7:32 to put the game out of reach and went on to claim a 76-67 victory Saturday over the Retrievers (0-7) at Savage Arena in front of 3,667 fans.

Although he scored just two points during the game-breaking run, Barnett provided a calming presence on the floor while also drawing attention from defenders to open up shots for his teammates.

The freshman forward scored 15 of his game-high 26 points before halftime, finishing 6-of-12 from the floor, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 10-of-11 at the foul line.

"I'm just happy my teammates were able to find me today," Barnett said. "I just had the hot hand. You know, it can be anyone on any different day. It just so happened that it was me today."

Barnett also grabbed 12 rebounds to record his first career double-double and dished out four assists.

"I thought Jake Barnett played anan outstanding game, and he basically carried our team," UT coach Gene Cross said. "We used his energy throughout the entire game and came out with the victory."

The victory was UT's first over an NCAA Division I team this season after Wednesday's win over Rochester College, a member of the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Rockets (2-6) overcame a slow start after they scored just three points - Barnett's triple - in the first six minutes of the game and trailed 17-10 with 9:38 left in the first half.

Freshman forward Jordan Dressler converted a three-point play and then dropped in another two points after an offensive rebound to close the gap to 17-15 at the 8:04 mark. The Rockets took the lead for good after freshman guard Stephen Albrecht's 3-pointer from the top of the arc put them ahead 27-25 with 3:07 to go in the half.

"That was a solid, solid performance by our group," Cross said.

"I was really proud of them. I thought we started a little sluggish, but then we kind of got a rhythm going on offense and defense. Then we came out in the second half and we bent but didn't break."

Albrecht drained four triples and finished with 14 points, while Dressler was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 at the line for 13 points.

He also grabbed five rebounds, three on the offensive end.

"I just try and go in there and bring as much energy as possible," Dressler said. "Just try to get rebounds and do the little things, and eventually the scoring will come. I try not to do too much, just try to do what I can do and just try to help this team win."

Junior forward Justin Anyijong chipped in with 11 points, including two 3-pointers as UT converted 10-of-23 from beyond the arc.

UMBC was 25-of-59 from the floor, including 9-of-26 from long distance. Freshman guard Brian Neller hit five 3-pointers to lead five players in double figures for the Retrievers with 15 points.

"Like Coach Cross says, we have to do it on the defensive end and our offense will take of itself," Dressler said. "We just have to keep working hard and use this momentum [of a two-game win streak].

"I just think we're playing a lot harder. We're putting a lot more effort into it. You saw Steve Albrecht dive for that loose ball at the end and there was 25 seconds left and we were up by 10. I just think guys are getting it and know how hard we have to play in order to get wins."

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com.



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