DeKALB, IL – Sophomore Malcolm Griffin erupted for a career-high 31 points, almost half his team's total, but it wasn't enough in Toledo's 64-54 defeat at Northern Illinois (6-9, 2-1 MAC) on Saturday.
"I thought we played great effort and energy," Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "We just got a little tired and couldn't come up with the plays we needed to late in the game."
Griffin was the only Rocket to score in double figures. Freshman Delino Dear came close to double digits with nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The defeat was the 41st road loss in a row for the Rockets.
UT (3-14, 0-3 MAC) limited the Mid-American Conference's leading scorer Xavier Silas to 20 points, four below his season scoring average that ranks fourth nationally.
"We did a good job on Xavier Silas, who's a heckuva player," Kowalczyk said. "It takes a team effort to contain a guy that's as talented as he is, and we were able to do that."
Silas started out on fire as he buried three consecutive 3-pointers to open the game. The Rockets were then able to put the clamps on him as he went scoreless the remainder of the half.
The Huskies appeared ready to take control when they reeled off seven straight points to take their largest lead of the contest, 42-29, with 12:25 to play. The Rockets fought right back though with a 9-0 burst to climb within 42-38 less than three minutes later.
Following an NIU timeout, sophomore guard Tony Nixon knocked down a 3-pointer to put the hosts up by a 45-38 margin. Dear followed with a turnaround jumper in the lane to make it a five-point contest, but that as close as UT could come.
"We have to do a better job of finishing plays on the defensive end," Kowalczyk said. "There were several times that they were able to get offensive rebounds and keep possessions alive."
The Rockets return home against Western Michigan on Wednesday to begin a 3-game home stand.
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