TOLEDO, Ohio – Junior RayJ Dennis tallied a team-high 25 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a career-high two blocked shots to lead the Toledo men’s basketball team to a dominating wire-to-wire 90-75 victory over Ohio on Tuesday evening in Savage Arena.
“We played with great intensity all night as well as great maturity except for our turnovers,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We’re improving as a team and starting to find our identity without Tyler Cochran. We’re trusting our bench more, and I thought both AJ Edu and EJ Farmer both played well tonight.”
Senior JT Shumate (21 pts., 8-of-11 FG), sophomore Dante Maddox Jr. (14 pts., 4-of-6 FG) and sophomore EJ Farmer (11 pts., 5-of-6 FG) joined Dennis in double digits and combined to shoot 17-of-23 from the field.
Toledo (12-6, 3-2 MAC) shot 55.6 percent as a team, including an impressive 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from three-point range. The Rockets limited Ohio (9-9, 1-4 MAC) to a 43.3 shooting mark and a 6-of-24 clip (.250) behind the three-point arc.
The Rockets bolted to a 13-0 lead and hit nine of their first 10 shots en route to a 26-7 lead with 12:56 remaining in the first half. Toledo led by as many as 22 points before taking a 52-31 advantage to the locker room. UT extended its cushion to as many as 26 points in the second half before settling for the 15-point victory.
“Our start was huge tonight,” Dennis said. “We made it a point of emphasis to come out and really defend and guard. We did a good job of that and that gave us a big cushion. When we play well defensively it means everything to us. We get to play in transition, control tempo and play how we want to play.”
“It was awesome how we started the game defensively,” Kowalczyk said. “We made it a little bit uncomfortable for them. Our perimeter defense was really good, and our defense on Dwight Wilson at the start was good as well.”
Elmore James topped the Bobcats with 21 points, while Wilson scored 17 points (seven in the 1st half) and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Toledo returns to action on Friday, Jan. 20 at Buffalo (9-9, 3-2 MAC). Tip-off time for the nationally-televised contest on the CBS Sports Network is 8:30 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Rockets opened the game with a 13-0 run capped off by a RayJ Dennis layup at the 17:33 mark.
- Ohio scored the next five points to trim Toledo’s lead to eight, 13-5, with 16:04 left in the half.
- André Lorentsson’s three-pointer at the 11:30 mark gave Toledo a 20-point lead, 29-9.
- Ohio’s Elmore James scored six points as part of a 9-3 spurt to cut the Rockets’ lead to 32-18 with 7:38 left in the frame.
- JT Shumate’s three-pointer at the 3:09 mark provided Toledo a 44-22 lead, its largest of the half.
- The Rockets made nine of their first 10 shots on their way to shooting 19-for-28 (67.9%) from the floor.
- Dennis led the Rockets with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor.
- Ra’Heim Moss sank two free throws following the first media timeout to give the Rockets a 26-point advantage, 63-37, with 15:22 remaining. The lead was Toledo’s largest of the game.
- The Bobcats countered with seven straight points to trim Toledo’s lead to 63-44 with 13:56 to play.
- A Dennis three-pointer put the Rockets back up, 71-48, at the 11:34 mark.
- Ohio utilized a 5-0 run to come within 16 points of the Rockets, but Toledo countered with a 6-0 burst of its own to take a 79-57 lead with 6:39 to play.
- The Bobcats trimmed Toledo’s lead to 13 on an AJ Clayton layup with 1:30 remaining but could not come any closer in the final seconds.
- EJ Farmer’s driving layup with 47 seconds left helped Toledo reach the 90-point mark for the sixth time this season