Fletcher's Triple Double Lifts MAC West Champ Rockets to 97-67 Win at NIU

By Published: 2/28/2018 6:45:05 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics

DeKALB, Ill. – Senior forward Tre'Shaun Fletcher registered the second triple-double in program history on Tuesday evening, as Toledo cruised to a dominating 97-67 road triumph over Northern Illinois. The victory clinched an outright Mid-American Conference West Division title for the Rockets, who are now 21-9 overall and 13-4 in league play.

UT is locked in as the No. 2 seed in next week's MAC Tournament and still has a chance to earn a share of the conference's regular-season title with a victory over Eastern Michigan in Friday's 6:00 p.m. regular-season finale in Savage Arena. Buffalo (22-8, 14-3 MAC) leads the Rockets by a game in the standings and will play at Bowling Green on Friday at 6:00 p.m.

Fletcher finished tonight's contest with a game-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best 11 assists and committed just one turnover in 35 minutes. The Rockets' only other triple-double was tallied by Nathan Boothe, who tallied 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists vs. San Jose State in the 2015 Great Alaska Shootout.

Joining Fletcher in double figures were junior guard Jaelan Sanford and sophomore center Luke Knapke with 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Toledo was extremely efficient throughout the contest, as it shot 57.6 percent from the field, tied its season high with 14 three-point field goals (in 29 attempts) and dished out a season-high 22 assists while committing just eight turnovers.

The Rockets' defense was on top of their game as well, especially in the first half to help UT build a 48-27 halftime advantage. Toledo shut down the Huskies in the opening half, as NIU was 0-for 7 from three-point range and shot 33.3 percent overall.

TOLEDO HEAD COACH TOD KOWALCZYK:
"I'm extremely proud of our guys and how we played from start to finish to clinch the MAC West Division title. We followed our game plan and didn't let up at all. The way we shared and moved the ball really was fun to watch. It was also great to see Tre'Shaun (Fletcher) finish with a triple-double. It was well deserved because he's such an unselfish player and plays the game the right way."

HOW IT HAPPENED
Fletcher tallied five assists before scoring his first points of the game with a layup that put UT in front 22-15 with 11:00 remaining in the first half.
Toledo took its first double-digit lead at 25-15 on sophomore guard Justin Roberts' three-pointer with 10:34 remaining in the first half.

An 11-0 Rocket spurt highlighted by treys from junior forward Nate Navigato and Fletcher and Knapke's three-point play gave Toledo a 40-21 cushion with 5:04 remaining before halftime.
Fletcher's dunk just over three minutes later provided UT its largest advantage, 48-23, of the opening stanza.

NIU reduced its deficit to 51-37 less than four minutes into the second half, but a 7-0 burst keyed by sophomore forward Willie Jackson's four points and a Fletcher trey left the Huskies down 65-43 with 11:28 to play.

Toledo's lead didn't fall below 20 points for the remainder of the contest.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Toledo has won outright or shared seven MAC West Division titles since the division format began in 1997-98. UT's outright titles came in 1998-99, 2006-07 and 2017-18. The Rockets captured a piece of the West crown in 1999-2000, 2004-05, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Toledo swept its season series vs. NIU and has now won its last three matchups vs. the Huskies.
The Rockets buried a season-high 14 treys for a third time this season. Toledo is 26-of-49 from three-point range in its last two contests.

Toledo has posted a 50.0 field-goal percentage or higher in three straight games and in 10 contests this season.

Fletcher's 11 assists are the most by a Rocket since Julius Brown dished out 12 vs. Central Michigan on Jan. 11, 2014.

Roberts tied his career high with nine points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.

UP NEXT
Toledo will wrap up its regular season at home with a 6:00 p.m. tipoff on Friday, March 2 vs. Eastern Michigan. Senior Night ceremonies will take place following the nationally-televised contest vs. the Eagles.
Published: 2/28/2018 6:45:05 AM Custom Tag