Toledo, OH - The University of Toledo opened the newly remodeled Savage Arena tonight in front of a packed house of 7,252. In a fitting ending, sophomore forward/center Justin Anyijong tipped in a missed Tyrone Kent shot as time expired to give the Toledo Rockets a 57-56 victory over UMASS of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
UMASS held a slim 32-31 lead at halftime, after Toledo held an early 7 point lead. Anthony Byrd led all scorers at halftime with 11 points, and also scored the first points in the new arena.
Tyrone Kent and Jonathan Amos led the Rockets with 13 points a piece. Anthony Byrd tallied 11 points, Ian Salter and Justin Anyijong added 6 points, Ridley Johnson scored 4 points, and Mohammed Lo and Larry Bastfield each added 2 points for the Rockets.
Toledo shot 54% from the field, to just 38% for UMASS, but UMASS was 9 of 10 at the foul line and Toledo was just 1 for 2. Toledo made 4 of 10 three pointers in the game.
Toledo led the game 55-54 when UMASS was fouled with just 16.4 seconds left in the game. Both foul shots went in, giving UMASS a 56-55 lead. UMASS had a foul to give, and took it with 8.3 seconds left.
After the game, UT head coach Gene Cross talked about the 30 second timeout with 8.3 seconds left. "I looked into their eyes and said you know what, it's not happening to us again," said Coach Cross.
After the 30 second timeout, Rocket senior Tyrone Kent took the ball and tried to get the game winner, but missed. Sophomore Justin Anyijong tipped the ball in though as time expired, igniting a loud explosion of cheering from Rocket fans as the students stormed the court after the 57-56 Rocket victory.
"I'm really happy for those kids in the locker room. It was a great night," said Head Coach Gene Cross after the game.
"It was an unbelievable atmosphere," said Coach Cross. "The students were terrific. Everything about this situation, this institution and this program. I love it."
Toledo is now 2-5 on the season and 1-0 in the new Savage Arena. Next up, the Rockets play at Oakland University Sunday afternoon.
Toledo Opens Savage Arena in Style
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