A blistering shooting display and an all-around efficient performance lifted the University of Toledo men’s basketball team to a 101-75 win Saturday against Bowling Green State University at Savage Arena.
Toledo’s offense was too much for Bowling Green to overcome, as the Rockets topped their rival for the eighth time in the past nine Battle of I-75 matchups and won their seventh consecutive game overall.
Toledo forward Willie Jackson dunks the ball during Saturday's 101-75 win over Bowling Green State University at Savage Arena in Toledo. The Rockets have won 7 in a row.
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Toledo shot a season-high 67.2 percent (39-of-58) from the field, its best shooting night since a 2002 game against Arkansas State, and shot better in the first half at 72.4 percent.
“I thought we played really efficient on both ends,” UT coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We didn’t start the game very well, but overall we were very, very efficient on both ends of the floor. We shot 67 percent for the game and had very few turnovers in the first half. We did a good job defensively limiting them to tough 2s. We didn’t allow open 3s and that was a big part of the game, limiting their 3-point shooting. They have some guys that can really shoot it.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo 101, Bowling Green 75
VIDEO: Toledo-Bowling Green
The Rockets broke the game open with a 27-9 run in a seven-minute stretch of the first half during which the Rockets made 12 consecutive shots.
When all was said and done in the first half, Toledo had a 54-30 lead on the strength of 21-of-29 shooting.
“They have multiple guys who can score and multiple guys who can shoot,” Bowling Green coach Michael Huger said. “They have veteran guys that understand how to score, when to score, where to score. You sprinkle in some freshmen, and that’s what makes them difficult. You have all those threats on the floor at one time and you have to pick your poison. Going into the game, we had a really good plan. It worked in the beginning, and then we started to fall asleep and not play with that energy. We started off with great energy and then it dropped. Once that happened, that’s when they got loose.”
Senior Tre’Shaun Fletcher paced Toledo (15-6, 7-1 MAC) with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in his first taste of the I-75 rivalry.
“It was good,” Fletcher said. “We knew that a lot of fans were going to come out and there was going to be a lot of energy in the building. We just wanted to make sure we played to our strengths and we didn’t want to take them lightly. Despite their record, we knew they were going to come out here fighting. I think we had a slow start, but we made up for it in the second part of the first half. We just did what we needed to do tonight.”
Junior Nate Navigato added 17 points, while junior Jaelan Sanford and sophomore Luke Knapke added 14 points each.
Dylan Frye, Justin Turner, and Derek Koch led Bowling Green (12-9, 3-5 MAC) with 13 points, while Antwon Lillard and Daeqwon Plowden added 11 each.
Fletcher had 15 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer that beat the halftime buzzer. Sanford added 12 first-half points.
Toledo trailed 13-10 before a Sanford jumper provided the start to the key first-half stretch. By the time the 12-for-12 streak from the floor was broken, Toledo held a 37-22 lead with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the half.
UT's Taylor Adway battles BGSU's Demajeo Wiggins for the ball.
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The shooting didn’t slow down for Toledo from there, as they made 6-of-9 from the field to close the half, culminating in Fletcher’s 3.
Toledo led by as many as 32 points in the second half after two Navigato free throws made it 65-33 with 16:28 left.
From that point on, the closest Bowling Green would get was 20 points at 79-59 after a 3 from Plowden with 10:20 left. Navigato responded on the next possession with a 3, and the Falcons never got any closer.
The 26-point win was the largest margin of victory for Toledo in the I-75 series as the Rockets kept rolling in front of a season-high 6,812 fans at Savage Arena. After falling at Buffalo to open conference play, Toledo has marched on to seven straight league wins.
“We don’t talk about how many in a row, we just talk about how to get better,” Kowalczyk said. “I love being around these guys because it’s an unbelievably together group and they understand we need to get better at some things. This team just loves to compete.”
Almost at the midway mark of the conference season, the Rockets have worked up a three-game lead in the MAC West.
“The seven-game streak is cool, but we still haven’t done anything yet,” Fletcher said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’re just going to keep getting better and better. We’re going to enjoy tonight and then come back tomorrow and get a good lift in or whatever we need to do. At the end of the day, we’re still in the middle of the season and we still have a lot of work to do and we can get a lot better.”
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