Rockets Grind Out 67-65 Victory over Akron

By Published: 1/6/2018 9:45:04 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics

TOLEDO, Ohio – Junior guard Jaelan Sanford scored a team-high 22 points, including a pair of clutch buckets in the final two minutes, to help Toledo grind out a 67-65 victory over Akron in Savage Arena on Friday evening. The victory improved Rockets to 9-6 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while the Zips (7-7, 0-2 MAC) remained winless in league play.

Senior guard Tre'Shaun Fletcher was the only other Rocket to score in double digits, scoring 14 points and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double to help UT down its cross-division foe for the fifth time in the last six outings.

Sophomore guard Daniel Utomi was one of three Zips to score in double figures with a team-high 19 points. He was joined by freshman forward Eric Parrish and graduate transfer guard Malcolm Divivier with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

It was a tale of two halves for the Rockets shooting the basketball. UT was red-hot in the opening 20 minutes with a 57.7 FG% before going ice cold for the first eight minutes of the final stanza en route to a 35.0 FG%. Toledo shot 47.8 percent overall, marking the first time in four contests it failed to make at least half of its shots. The Rockets also converted 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) of their three-point attempts but was 0-for-8 behind the arc in the final 20 minutes despite many good looks.

The Zips notched a 45.0 shooting mark and shot 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) from three-point range.

Toledo displayed extreme balance in the first half as all nine players who took the court scored and seven different Rockets knocked down a three-point field goal.

The Rockets appeared ready to pull away from the Zips with an 11-2 spurt in the final four-plus minutes of the first half. Sanford ignited the burst with a layup and three-pointer. After a basket from Utomi, sophomore center Luke Knapke and sophomore forward Willie Jackson each hit a triple to give UT its first double-digit advantage.

After holding a 41-31 lead at intermission, Toledo extended its lead to 14 with a pair of Fletcher free throws and a Sanford jumper just over a minute into the second stanza. The Rockets then could only muster three Fletcher free throws over the next 8:33 when freshman guard Marreon Jackson's layup gave UT a 50-46 lead with 10:17 to play.

The Zips eventually took their first lead since the game's first two minutes, 55-54, on Duvivier's jumper with 4:58 to play. After a Knapke free throw evened the score 22 seconds later, Fletcher slammed one one home as part of a three-point play to give the Rockets the lead for good.

Sanford helped hold off the Zips' attempted rally with a baseline jumper for a 64-60 lead at the 1:47 mark and a leaning, one-handed jumper just inside the free-throw line for a 66-62 advantage with 16 seconds to play.

Toledo remains home for its next contest on Tuesday, Jan. 9 when it hosts MAC West Division foe Western Michigan (9-5, 1-0 MAC). Tip-off time is set for 7:00 p.m. with the contest being streamed on ESPN3.

Published: 1/6/2018 9:45:04 AM Custom Tag