Sloppy Tigers Drop Tough Game To Rockets

Carolina, Puerto Rico--The scrappy <!--Default NodeId For Auburn is 569,2004--><A HREF=>Auburn</A> basketball team could not make it a clean sweep of the San Juan Shootout as the Tigers dropped a 68-65 contest to the <!--Default NodeId For Toledo is 490,2004--><A HREF=>Toledo</A> Rockets on Wednesday afternoon.

Unlike Tuesday when the Tigers were able to claw their way to a tough victory over Middle Tennessee State, a second half that was filled with turnovers and foul trouble for Quinnel Brown was too much for Auburn to overcome against the Rockets.

Despite the loss Auburn still gained its fourth tournament title on the island (1995, 1999, 2002. 2004), this time with point differential. Auburn, Middle Tennessee State and Toledo each went 2-1 in the four-team round-robin tournament while Delaware went 0-3.

Auburn, which dropped to 8-4, played sloppily in the second half as the Tigers lost the ball often and had 25 turnovers in the game. The Tigers were also without their lone post player for much of the second half. Quinnel Brown carried his foul trouble over from Tuesday's contest as he was whistled for his fourth foul with 11:53 remaining in the game and saw limited action the rest of the way.

"They are a good team, and that is the first time that we have seen that kind of quickness that they possessed," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. "We turned the ball over too much, and that was the difference in the game. We battled hard and battled on the glass. They went small and really bothered us. We didn't have some guys come up with some big games like we have had. Toney played hard driving the ball hard to the basket and finishing, but turnovers were the name of the game."

With Toledo, which moves to 3-5 with the victory, clinging to a 66-65 lead with just over minute to go in the game, Auburn was able to force a stop on a shot clock violation by the Rockets. However, a Daniel Hayles jumper on the ensuing offensive possession was off the rim and Toledo was able to come down with the rebound and draw a foul on the loose ball.

The Rockets' Justin Ingram was only able to make the front end of the 1-1, but Toledo came down with the rebound and Auburn had to foul with only 13 seconds remaining. Then, on those free throws Keith Triplett was only able to hit one and Auburn got the ball back with a chance to tie the game down by three with 13 seconds remaining. However, a Nathan Watson three-point shot came up short and time ran out on the Tigers' comeback.

After Auburn took a 35-28 lead into halftime, Toledo came out smoking in the second half as it scored the first seven points of the half to tie the game at 35 with 18:05 remaining. Then, with 16:17 remaining Toledo took a 41-39 lead on a three-point basket from Keonta Howell, who scored nine points in the contest.

The Rockets stretched the lead to as many as six on a jumper from Kashif Payne with 8:55 remaining. However, following that basket Auburn went on a 9-0 run that was capped with a Hayles three-pointer to give the Tigers the lead again at 58-55. Auburn was able to stretch that run out to 12-0 to take a 61-55 lead with 6:06 remaining.

Toledo, however, continued the theme of the game following that run and fought back to score seven straight points of its own to re-take the lead 62-61 with 3:48 remaining.

Toney Douglas led the way for the Tigers with 23 points on 9-17 shooting from the field. Watson scored 12 and Hayles added 10 points in the loss while Brown added eight despite his foul trouble.

Douglas garnered San Juan Shootout MVP honors, averaging 18 points and 4.7 rebounds in the three games while Watson was named to the all-tournament team, averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.

The freshman added that he was pleased with the team effort even in defeat. "We played hard, but there were some key points in the game where we couldn't rebound and that hurt us," Douglas said. "I feel like we played hard. I am not satisfied with the loss, but I am satisfied with the way everybody else played."

Both teams shot the ball well form the floor with Auburn hitting for 46 percent and the Rockets shooting 43.3 percent. However, the Tigers were better from from the free throw line. Auburn hit 73.7 percent from the charity stripe while Toledo was only able to hit for 56.3 percent.

Ingram and Triplett led the way for the Rockets with 13 points each while Howell added nine and Payne scored six.

The Tigers will get back to action on December 30th at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum as they will take on Belmont at 7:00 p.m.
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