Rockets Post Ninth Win in 10 Games with 82-77 Victory over NIU

By Published: 2/7/2018 6:49:24 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics

TOLEDO, Ohio – Toledo fought off a pesky Northern Illinois squad on Tuesday evening to pick up its ninth win in last 10 contests with an 82-77 victory over the Huskies (10-14, 3-8 MAC) in Savage Arena. The victory improves the Rockets' record to 17-7 overall and 9-2 in Mid-American Conference play and keeps UT's lead in the West Division at three games.

Junior guard Jaelan Sanford tallied 22 points to pace a balanced Toledo attack that saw four players score in double digits. Senior guard Tre'Shaun Fletcher scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, tied for the team lead with six boards and dished out a team-best five assists. Sophomore center Luke Knapke contributed 14 points, while freshman guard Marreon Jackson collected 13 points.

It was Jackson, though, who came through with the Rockets' biggest points of the evening. With the score tied at 75-apiece, Jackson buried a corner trey with 54 seconds remaining off a feed from Fletcher and sank two free throws on the Rockets' next trip up the court to put the Midnight Blue and Gold ahead to stay.

After NIU's Eugene German cut UT's lead to 80-77, Sanford had a chance to provide Toledo some breathing room but missed two free throws. German then missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, and Jackson knocked down two more free throws for the final margin of victory.

German finished with a career-high 30 points on 14-of-29 shooting and added seven rebounds and four assists. Junior forward Levi Bradley was NIU's only other double-digit scorer, finishing with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Northern Illinois outshot the Rockets by a 50.0-44.2 margin, but UT was able to overcome that with its 11-of-27 shooting 40.7 percent) from the perimeter and 25-of-31 effort (80.6 percent) at the charity stripe. The Huskies were just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) behind the three-point arc and 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) at the free-throw line.

Toledo controlled much of the first half thanks to Fletcher's own 11-point run that gave UT its first double digit lead, 20-10, with 10:37 remaining in the opening stanza. After NIU reduced its deficit to six, Sanford answered with a trey and two free throws for a 27-16 cushion just over four minutes later. The Rockets' lead didn't dip below nine points the remainder of the half as UT took a 40-28 advantage to the locker room.

Northern Illinois came out and immediately cut into Toledo's lead and eventually evened the score at 44-44 on sophomore forward Noah McCarty's tip-in with 13:26 to play. The Huskies continued their surge and Bradley's five straight points gave the visitors their largest lead of the night, 56-51, with 10:12 remaining.

McCarty was whistled for a technical foul 20 seconds later and Sanford and Knapke each hit two free throws to bring UT within a point, 56-55. Sanford converted two more free throws with 9:25 left to put the Rockets back ahead. A minute later, Bradley's jumper gave NIU its last lead of the game as Sanford answered with a jumper and Knapke sank two free throws for a 61-58 lead.

Sanford's three-pointer at the 5:17 mark provided Toledo a 66-62 advantage, but the Huskies kept clawing back until Jackson closed the game out in the final minute.

The Rockets return to action on Friday, Feb. 9 with a trip to Oxford, Ohio to face MAC East Division foe Miami (13-11, 6-5 MAC). Tip-off time is set for 6:00 p.m. and will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
Published: 2/7/2018 6:49:24 AM Custom Tag