Rockets squander second-half lead against BuffaloWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a tale of two halves as the Rockets fell 72-65 to Buffalo on Feb. 4 at Savage Arena.
Toledo (10-13, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) let a 13-point second half lead slip away against the Bulls. With UT holding a 65-62 lead with 2:44 remaining, Buffalo (14-6, 7-2 MAC) scored the game’s final 10 points to grab the victory.
“Tonight I feel bad for our guys,” Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “They played their hearts out. We competed and did all the things we needed to win the game.
“I’m disappointed we lost the game.”
The Bulls abused UT in the paint in the second half, outscoring the Rockets 24-4 while holding a 16-3 edge in second-chance points. That production was a stark difference from the first half when the Bulls led just 14-8 in points in the paint and were held without a second-chance point.
Kowalczyk stated after the game that he believed the referees on the court missed calls in the post.
“Obviously some rebounding numbers in the second half hurt us,” Kowalczyk said. “Our post defense was tremendous. I don’t know what an offensive foul is in the post anymore, obviously neither does the three guys out working the game tonight either.”
Rian Pearson scored a game-high 26 points for UT on 10-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds. The sophomore guard put himself in contention to become MAC West Player of the Week for the second-straight week recording a combined 55 points and 20 rebounds over the past two games.
“We have to work on closing out games better,” Pearson said. “We know how to start games but we don’t know how to close them out. We need to get more physical. It’s a physical league and we need to focus more on defensive rebounds, trying to grab them and pull them in.”
Freshman point guard Juice Brown had 10 points and nine rebounds while Reese Holliday (2 of 4) and Curtis Dennis (3 of 12) each had nine points off the bench.
Buffalo was led by their inside scorers Javon McCrea (12 pts, 8 reb) and Mitchell Watt (9 pts, 13 reb). Titus Robinson (6 of 8) led the Bulls with 14 points off the bench.
Toledo looks to grab its first home win since Jan. 18 when it takes on Ohio (18-4, 6-2) at 7 p.m. Feb. 8. The Bobcats have won six straight games but have lost two of their last three on the road.