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Rollins leads Toledo to big showdown win over Ohio

Bobcats' winning streak snapped at 9 games

ATHENS – Toledo shot 59% and withstood a second half run from Ohio to hand the Bobcats their first Mid-American Conference loss 87-69, also snapping their nine-game winning streak Friday night before a crowd of more than 8,000 at The Convo.

Ryan Rollins scored 26 points with six rebounds and five steals for the Rockets (15-4, 7-1 MAC).

Jason Carter paced the Bobcats (14-3, 5-1 MAC) with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Toledo led 45-29 at halftime and then went up 18 with the opening basket of the second half, but Ohio made a run, getting to within six on three different occasions, the last at 71-65 on a Carter 3-pointer with 6:51 remaining.

“We got back into it in the second half, by doing the things we wanted to do in the first half," Boals said. “Give them credit, coming in, they're a little unorthodox. They switched up a lot and kept us on the perimeter. During the second half, we started going inside more, made a run, got some stops, and were able to get out and transition, which is a big part of our offense. We expended so much energy to get back into it, we hit a wall and just could not get over the hump.”

But the Rockets scored the next six points – four of them on Rollins free throws – to double its lead, and after an Ohio basket by Mark Sears, Toledo scored 10 straight after that to pull ahead by 20.

Rollins hit a 3-pointer early in the game that put the Rockets up for good at 6-5. It was the start of a 7-0 run, and then a short time later another seven straight points gave Toledo a 19-9 advantage less than seven minutes into the game.

"They came out more aggressive than us," Vander Plas said. "Usually, we do a good job of ball pressure, making it difficult for the big guys to get post touches and having better gaps. We weren't together defensively, and they came out was more aggressive than us."

With Toledo already leading 30-22, it scored eight straight points, taking a 16-point lead on a Rollins jumper with 5:50 left in the first half.

Carter and Mark Sears had back-to-back three-point plays early in the second half to help the Bobcats get back in it, cutting the deficit to nine points. Later, a JT Shumate three-point play pushed the Rockets’ advantage back up to 13, but Ohio got as close as 65-59 following a 3-pointer by Ben Vander Plas and then a Sam Towns second-chance basket with 10:57 remaining.

"You could feel the energy in the second half, and we feed off it," Vander Plas said. "Coach Boals feeds off it and playing in an environment like that is something you dream of. Just seeing that many people standing up and cheering for us, that was awesome."

Sears scored 14 points for Ohio, but he was just 5 of 13 from the field with seven turnovers. Vander Plas added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Ray Dennis had 18 points, Setrick Millner Jr. scored 17, and Shumate finished with 12 for the Rockets.

Ohio shot the ball reasonably well at 45.0% for the game but was off the mark from long range, going 8 of 29, and made just 7 of 14 free throws.

"Obviously, we can learn a lot of things from this,” Boals said. “When we got back into it, we just expended so much energy doing that and it's tough to sustain that level. We'll definitely learn from this and move on to get better for Tuesday.”

The Bobcats host Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Convo.

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