Chippewas Overpower Rockets 59-44

The Toledo Basketball team dropped its final road contest of the season Wednesday night, a 59-44 loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Tyrone Kent and Justin Anyijong led the Rockets with 14 points each in the loss. Toledo's final home game is Sunday with a 2:00 p.m. tip-off.

MOUNT PLEASNT, Mich. -- The Toledo Rockets (6-24, 4-11) basketball team saw its road woes continue Wednesday night at Rose Arena with a 59-44 setback, this time at the hands of the Central Michigan Chippewas (10-18, 6-9).

Just as in their last road trip, a Wednesday night tilt with Eastern Michigan last week, it was a slow start to the contest that doomed the Rockets chances for a road win.

At the 13:28 mark of the first half, the home team had established a dominating 16-3 lead. Justin Anyijong opened the game with a triple on the Rockets first offensive possession of the contest, but it took Toledo eight minutes before they'd score again on a pair of Clayton Sterling free throws.

"We were very stagnant at the start of the game and they did a good job of making us stand around," Toledo coach Gene Cross said. "We weren't aggressive enough in our thought process attacking their zone and that resulted in us turning the ball over and getting behind."

Central Michigan, however, poured it on with a strong presence on the offensive end of the court both inside and outside the three-point arc.

Jordan Bitzer connected from long range to give Central Michigan its first lead, a 5-3 advantage two minutes in. Marcus Van, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds to lead the Chippewas in both categories, added his first basket of the game. Jeremy Allen and Robbie Harman both scored as well, Harman's shot coming from distance.

"Van made his presence felt and altered a lot of our shots down low. It seemed like we were a little bit intimidated, and you can't play that way."

Toledo rallied to trim the lead to just six points, 26-20, by the time the teams reached the locker rooms at halftime. Anyijong, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the opening half, and opportunities from the charity stripe carried the Toledo offense. In total, Toledo scored on 10-of-12 opportunities at the free throw line in the first half.

"We were able to get back in the game when we started attacking them, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line," Cross said. "We came out aggressive at the start of the second half and took the lead. CMU changed up things a little and we went back to being passive as opposed to aggressive."

Toledo's second lead of the contest came 4:30 into the second half. Senior Tyrone Kent scored on three consecutive three-point attempts, and Clayton Sterling, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, added a layup to put the Rockets back on top by a basket at 33-31.

It was a short lived lead, though.

After tying the score 35-35 with 14:27 to play, Central Michigan rallied with a 24-9 run to end the contest. The Rockets would get within two points one last time at 39-37, but it got no closer.

Adrian Hunter and Jordan Bitzer put the game out of reach in Central Michigan's direction with a three-pointer each in the final five minutes of the contest, all the while, Toledo struggling to score a field goal.

Central Michigan grew the lead to 15 points over the final minutes of the contest.

The Rockets finish the regular season on Sunday afternoon hosting the Northern Illinois Huskies with a 2:00 tip-off at Savage Arena.

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