Men's basketball falls off late in road loss to Toledo
After hanging with the Mid-American Conference West Division’s best team for nearly 35 minutes, the Central Michigan’s men’s basketball team didn't have enough to get it done.
The Chippewas (16-13, 5-11 MAC) fell to Toledo (20-9, 12-4) in an offensive battle, 89-76, on Feb. 23 in Savage Arena.
It was the second straight loss for the Chippewas and moved their road record to 4-8. They are now a half-game behind Northern Illinois (16-12, 5-10) for last place in the MAC West.
"We didn't play our best game of basketball tonight following a great effort at Western Michigan," said CMU head coach Keno Davis. "They shot the lights out from 3-point distance but they've done that to a lot of teams this season. We couldn't stop them."
The Rockets to opened with a 8-0 run, forcing Davis to call a timeout. The Chippewas stormed back with a 9-0 run of their own, taking a one-point lead with just over 15 minutes to play in the first half.
UT’s junior guard Jaelan Sanford drove and dunked dunk right before the final second of the first half, giving the Rockets a 44-39 advantage heading into halftime.
The Rockets went 7-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half. They turned the ball over eight times — giving CMU 13 points.
Davis said the defense could've been better, but Toledo was hitting its shots.
"It's hard to say how much better we could've been when they do this to almost everyone, there is a reason they are one of the best teams in the conference," he said.
To open the second half, Rockets junior forward Nate Navigato hit a 3-pointer, but CMU answered with a couple transition hoops to close the gap.
That’s when the Chippewas started struggling.
Following another Sanford 3-pointer and senior guard Tre’Shaun Fletcher's dunk, the Rockets gained a 63-53 lead over CMU with less than 14 minutes to play.
CMU senior forward Cecil Williams sunk another triple and got an and-one bucket, but the Chippewas still found themselves down 72-64 with 6:57 to play.
The Chippewas never came within eight points for the remainder of the game.
Williams led CMU with 25 points and added eight boards. Transfer guard Shawn Roundtree scored 20 and McKay scored 17 off the bench.
CMU will return home to finish the season next week, with the first game being at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 against Ball State. The finale of the regular season will be at 7 p.m. on March 2 against Western Michigan at McGuirk Arena.
"We are moving our focus to the last two games of the season, I'd like to see more effort like we had when we played at Western," Davis said. "We have to finish strong then head into the MAC Tournament with the mindset we can win three games in three days. This group can do it, we just have to find a consistency."
- Josh Kozinski, David DiLeo and Luke Meyer (three starters) combined for five points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field.
- Coming into the game, CMU was third in the conference allowing just 72 points per game.
- CMU's bench scored 26 points, 17 of them came from McKay.