The men’s basketball team did not play stingy enough defense to contain the highest-powered offense in the Mid-American Conference on Saturday night.
Central Michigan lost at Toledo, 86-71. It was the team’s second-straight conference loss since defeating Marygrove by the largest margin of victory in program history, 127-44, on Jan. 3.
A total of 14 turnovers and 23 percent accuracy from 3-point range kept CMU from making the matchup close for the majority of game. All five Toledo starters scored in double figures against the Chippewas.
“We just didn’t hit some of the shots we had to make tonight,” said CMU coach Keno Davis. “We were able to get some open looks down the stretch and hang around a little bit in there. But we just couldn’t contain them.”
After turning the ball over five times in the first seven minutes of the game, the Chippewas were able to put together a 5-0 run to bring the deficit to 17-15 with less than nine minutes left in the first half.
Austin Keel scored a season-high seven first-half points against Toledo. Many of Keel’s first-half chances came uncharacteristically from underneath the rim. Keel was one of CMU’s best jump-shooters during non-conference play this season. He scored nine points at Toledo.
Following a 9-0 Toledo run, the men fought their way back into the game again, cutting the score to 28-25 with less than two minutes until halftime. Forward and Ohio State transfer J.D. Weatherspoon hit a 3-pointer to bulk Toledo’s lead up to 35-27 at the break.
CMU (7-7, 0-2 in MAC) shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half. Toledo orchestrated a 9-0 run from the final moments of the first half through the opening minutes of the second.
An ill-advised 3-pointer by freshman guard Braylon Rayson led to an easy Toledo layup at the other end and the Rockets took a commanding 54-42 lead with little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“We made some poor decisions from the floor in this one,” Davis said. “We have to be smarter with the basketball and keep playing the game the way we want to play it.”
A Chris Fowler layup with four minutes remaining cut Toledo’s lead to six, but the Rockets responded with a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach.
With the win, Toledo snapped a two-game losing streak and picked up its first MAC win of the season.
“If we would have played as tough against some other teams (earlier this season), we would have won some of those games,” Davis said. “No one is happy with this loss. We have to learn from it to continue to get better.”
For its next game, CMU will head to MAC foe Bowling Green on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.