Rockets falter again in close game at BGWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo watched another second-half lead slip away on Feb. 11 as the Rockets fell 66-63 at Bowling Green in the Stroh Center. The Rockets took the lead with six minutes left in the first half and held by as many as 13 in the next 23 minutes until BG took over with just 2:13 remaining.
The Rockets have struggled all season in close games, now 2-7 on the year in games decided by three points or less. In seven of Toledo’s 12 losses this season, the Rockets have either led or been tied in the final 2:32 seconds but still lost. Conversely, in only one of 11 UT wins have the Rockets trailed in the final 2:30 and still won.
“We needed to buckle down defensively the last five minutes,” sophomore Rian Pearson said. “We just tend to do that in the last five minutes of games, let it slip out of our hands. We just need to go back to practice and work on that.”
The Rockets got a strong first half from Juice Brown (12 points) and Pearson (9 points) but neither could continue that success in the second half, offensively scoring five and four points, respectively. Their struggles, combined with the Falcons shooting nearly 55 percent after the break, helped BG erase a 13-point second half lead for the victory.
“I thought both teams played hard and played well,” UT head coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We had some stretches where we really played hard and some stretches where we showed our youth. This was a game that was winnable and we didn’t get it done.
“We are young. We have had some frustrating moments this year but we will be fine. We are going to get a lot better because we have a really good young nucleus with really good young players. Don’t feel sorry for Toledo, we will be fine.”
Brown (6 of 13) and junior guard Curtis Dennis (6 of 11) tied for a game-high 17 points while Pearson (5 of 11) finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Scott Thomas led the Falcons with 21 points, six rebounds and four steals while A’uston Calhoun scored 20 points with 12 rebounds.
Toledo, which trailed Eastern Michigan by two games coming into the night for the MAC West crown with five league games remaining, fell behind another game after watching the Eagles upset Ohio in Athens.
The Rockets return to the court when they travel to Muncie to take on Ball State (12-11, 4-7) at 7 p.m. Feb. 15.