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Slow second half costs men’s basketball in 73-64 loss against Toledo

The men’s basketball team lost to Toledo 73-64 after going scoreless for nearly five minutes in the middle of the second half at McGuirk Arena Saturday.

“Give Toledo credit. I think you’re looking at a solid team,” head coach Keno Davis said. “Their (defense) is solid. They’re not many weaknesses in there, so you’re not getting as many open looks.”

Central Michigan missed two three-pointers, two free-throws, and gave the ball away three times during the scoreless stretch.

The Chippewas were six of 31 from three-point range and made 33.3 percent of their shots from the field for the game.

“You can’t just, all of a sudden, think you can win from three,” Davis said. “We had to get the ball in the basket. We had to get to the free-throw line. We had to score inside.”

The score was 42-39, Rockets, with 13:43 left in the second half.

The next shot CMU made was a three-pointer at the 8:47 mark. But, Toledo had scored an additional 10 points by that time, extending its lead to 52-42, which the Chippewas could not overcome.

After five lead changes in a closely contested first half, Rockets freshman forward Nathan Boothe, who had a career-high 19 points, swished a three-pointer to account for the last lead change with less than 18 minutes left in the game.

The Chippewas, last place in the Mid-American Conference, stayed within grasp of Toledo, tied for first in the West, and fought back at the end with a stronger defensive effort and double-digit scoring outputs from more than just senior guard Kyle Randall, who scored a game-high 21.

CMU held Toledo scoreless for about four minutes close to the end of the first half.

Davis said there was no strategy that limited the Rockets to 45.5 percent from the field, the lowest CMU has held a team to in its last four games.

“We were playing hard,” Davis said. “We’re fighting in there. Even if we were giving up four or five inches and 30, 40 pounds in there, there weren’t many plays where you didn’t see us scraping in there and pushing and shoving and trying to push back.”

It was the fifth time this season and the first time during conference play that more than three players scored at least 10 points in the same game.

Freshman guard Chris Fowler was honored before the game for surpassing the CMU freshman assist record and helped himself to 12 points.

He started out strong, with his sixth point, giving CMU a 13-6 lead, 4:20 into the game.

Hibbitts scored six-straight to give the Chippewas a 30-25 lead in the first half and finished with 11. senior forward Olivier Mbaigoto also had 11.

CMU plays in the last of the annual Bracketbusters, run by ESPN, at Youngstown State Saturday.

“We have to use this week that we have coming up to try to regroup,” Davis said. “We’ve got time right now that we haven’t had all season long, and that’s time to rest and also be able to put some new things in.”

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