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Toledo starts fast to win MAC opener over Ohio

Rockets score game's first 13 points

ATHENS – Toledo scored the first 13 points, briefly lost the lead, but then pulled away to hand Ohio an 86-77 loss in the Mid-American Conference opener Tuesday night at The Convo.

The Bobcats (6-7, 0-1 MAC) could not slow down a high-powered Rockets offense that shot 56.9%.

Ohio bounced back from Toledo’s start to take a 20-19 lead midway through the first half. An Elmore James 3-pointer made it 26-24 with 5:41 left, and the game was tied at 30 before Toledo closed the half by scoring the final six points.

That run continued into the start of the second half, with the Rockets (7-6, 1-0 MAC) outscoring the Bobcats 9-2 as part of an overall 15-2 run that made it 47-34. The closest Ohio got after that was 58-53 on a pair of Ike Cornish free throws with 12:12 to go. The Bobcats later closed the gap to 70-64 with 7:02 remaining. Each time, the Rockets answered to pull ahead.

James led Ohio with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Shareef Mitchell added 16 points and six rebounds. Ajay Sheldon knocked down four 3-pointers in five attempts and scored 13 points off the bench.

Jaylin Hunter struggled for the Bobcats, scoring just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting with one assist. AJ Clayton was 1 of 6 from 3-point range and scored seven points.

Ra’Heim Moss and Dante Maddox Jr. scored 18 points each, with Tyler Cochran adding 16 points for the Rockets. Sonny Wilson had 13 points, and Sam Lewis scored 11 points.

Maddox was 11 of 14 at the foul line for Toledo, which as a team went 23 of 31. The Bobcats had 17 offensive rebounds to the Rockets’ eight to stay close despite Toledo’s hot shooting.

Northern Illinois visits The Convo at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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