When a team makes 96 percent of their free throws, they're likely to win. That's what the Rockets did on a night featuring throwback uniforms and a good cause.
For several years our family had Toledo basketball season tickets. We cancelled them after the team fell into obscurity, while the cozy fifth row center tickets got pricier. We now prefer games in the Stroh Center, where cheap tickets have remarkably better sight lines. But this is Toledo-Bowling Green, and there is no need to be picky. It's still an event to me, and 6,360 other people agreed.
The stunner, though, is that after four long years of BGSU victories, Toledo finally turned the tables, resembling a team mostly unrecognizable compared to the last time I saw them in person, both in names on the jerseys and in the way they shot the basketball.
Toledo is not terrific but it's not for a lack of accuracy. They were decent from the floor, but in the second half they made 56 percent of their field goals and on the game they made 26 of 27 free throws. By comparison, BGSU didn't take their first free throw until 29 minutes into the contest. There is almost no way to compete with that, especially the free throws. After last night they're third in the country in free throw percentage (78.6%), and when the Falcons had to sit A'uston Calhoun with foul trouble, UT was able to capitalize on his absence by driving to the rim.
Dominique Buckley had a terrific game. Thanks to all those free throws he finished with 20 points on 8-8 free throws and 4-6 on 3-pointers. Rian Pearson had a great night at the line too (10-10) even though his 2-10 mark from the field wasn't so hot.
Despite the loss, Jordon Crawford remains a delight to watch. He got 20 points as well, even though he took 22 shots to get there, and dished out seven assists. Calhoun, as previously mentioned, missed much of the first half thanks to foul trouble but still managed to net 13 points, most in the second half. Luke Kraus stepped up and made some 3-pointers, but that was about it.
• Ken Rosenthal in attendance. I know! The Fox Sports baseball reporter wore bow ties during his coverage of the MLB playoffs last season, and with everyone decked out in bow ties at the game, Rosenthal spoke at halftime for a couple minutes about how he came to wear them on TV and noting how he wore the UT bow tie during one of the World Series games. Basically if you ask a notable sports figure who wears bow ties to appear at a bow tie for charity event, he'll be there.
• UT has been relatively bad for about four years, and that's precisely how long BGSU had their number in men's basketball. These things can't last forever, though, but it was definitely the way by which the Rockets snapped the losing streak that was most impressive.
• While all the coaches wore bow ties — including BG's — both teams wore some pretty interesting uniforms. Toledo's were some kind of retro jersey, where they put on a vertical gold stripe, a vertical blue stripe and called it a night. They were sold off for charity, so I suppose they get a pass. The Falcons, meanwhile, wore their road gray uniforms, which make that front logo pop out well, but it's still a pet peeve in that gray is not one of their colors.
• We sat rather high up in Savage Arena, but the second over next to us was a large crowd of BGSU students who were loud and energetic for much of the game. I had to smirk at the "Kevin Hadsell" cheer.