OXFORD, Ohio – Junior RayJ Dennis tied his career high with 29 points and dished out six assists to lead the Toledo men’s basketball team to an 81-78 triumph at Miami (7-15, 1-8 MAC) on Tuesday evening The win was the Rockets’ sixth in a row and kept UT (16-6, 7-2 MAC) one game behind Mid-American Conference co-leaders, Akron (16-6, 8-1) and Kent State (18-4, 8-1).
“RayJ is a phenomenal player who played with purpose tonight,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We had some other guys who didn’t. We committed silly turnovers and fouls and have some things to clean up. We took a step back tonight after playing exceptionally well our past few games. We need to get better at practice on Thursday.”
Joining Dennis in double digits were seniors JT Shumate (19 pts., 6 reb.) and Setric Millner Jr. (12 pts., 5 reb., 4 steals).
Sophomore Ra’Heim Moss topped with Rockets with seven rebounds, including a team-high four on the offensive glass.
Toledo shot 51.6 percent from the field, marking the 11th time this season its has made over half of its shots. The Rockets also converted at a 40.9 percent clip (9-of-22) from three-point range.
Miami shot 53.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from behind the arc. Junior Morgan Safford paced the RedHawks’ attack with 25 points.
Toledo returns home this weekend to host Central Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m. The contest will serve as the sixth-annual Rockets for Life game and be streamed on ESPN3.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Toledo surged to an 11-4 lead in the first four minutes, forcing Miami to take an early timeout.
- EJ Farmer’s layup following a RedHawk turnover increased the Rockets’ margin to 16-6 at the 15:23 mark.
- Miami rallied to knot the score at 22-22 on a Mekhi Lairy trey and took a 24-22 lead on Morgan Safford’s layup with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
- UT regained control and Ra’Heim Moss buried a triple to cap off an 8-1 spurt for a 32-25 advantage just over two minutes later.
- Dante Maddox Jr.’s three-pointer forced Miami to a take another timeout trailing 40-31 1:29 before halftime.
- Toledo took a 40-35 lead to the locker room with Setric Millner Jr. leading the way with 12 points.
- The Rockets shot 50.0 percent from the field and were 4-of-9 from three-point range.
- Miami continued its spurt at the end of the first and scored the first five points after intermission to even the score at 40-40.
- RayJ Dennis’s three-pointer ended the 9-0 run, but the RedHawks eventually took their only lead of the half, 48-47, with 15:20 left on a Lairy trey.
- AJ Edu’s three-point play and a JT Shumate three-pointer keyed an 8-0 burst for a 55-48 lead with 12:27 remaining.
- Dennis’ layup then gave Toledo its largest lead of the evening, 66-55, with 8:50 to play.
- Miami immediately responded with five straight points to cut the Rockets’ margin to 66-60 with just over six minutes left.
- Dennis then scored 14 of UT’s last 17 points to help the Rockets hold off the RedHawks’ rally.
- The Rockets’ lead didn’t dip below five points until Safford hit two free throws to bring Miami within 80-76 with 14.2 seconds left