After a surprising loss to Western Michigan to open MAC play, Toledo had the perfect set-up for a bounce-back game: a home game over a lesser foe. The Rockets did what they had to do, which was step up to the plate and beat the Chippewas soundly.
The Chips played the Rockets well in the first half despite only hitting one three pointer. They outrebounded Toledo 18-14 but had eight turnovers. With Toledo's main cogs in foul trouble, Central was able to capitalize and keep the score close at halftime.
Unfortunately the whole keeping it close thing didn't last long. Toledo went on a 7-2 run to push the lead out to thirteen and really never looked back. It seemed like every time that Central Michigan got one to go in Toledo answered, making the comeback extra difficult. The closest that the Chips got in the second half was six points at the 4:13 mark. It was all for naught however, as Toledo's 10-3 run over the next three minutes put the game away.
Chris Fowler had yet another stellar game, scoring 21 points on 8-13 shooting and eight rebounds. Braylon Rayson had a great game off of the bench with fifteen, twelve of which coming from beyond the arc. The Chips were just 5-21 from deep (24%) which didn't help out the comeback cause.
The Rockets had to deal with foul trouble all night, and that's probably why the final score was a little closer than expected. Rian Pearson fouled out, and four other Rockets each finished with four fouls. Pearson did end up with a solid game scoring fourteen points on 7-10 shooting. Toledo had an extremely well-balanced scoring effort, getting fifteen from Julius Brown, fourteen from both Pearson and J.D. Weatherspoon, thirteen from Nathan Boothe, twelve from Jordan Lauf and eleven from Justin Drummond. Although only seven guys scored, this game showed that Toledo can still win while they dealt with foul trouble.
Was Toledo a little overrated? Probably. When all their playmakers are on their A game they can beat anyone. But, when they get in foul trouble and can't get contributions from their full bench, things can get a little uncomfortable. Next up for Toledo is a home game against Buffalo, which will be a huge test for both teams. They don't have an answer on defense for Javon McCrea which can cause major problems. It'll be one of the better games of the year, as both teams will be in the hunt for the regular season title in the end.
Central Michigan, on the other hand, falls to 0-2 and are starting to fall behind in the conference race. Fortunately they get Bowling Green next Wednesday, but it's at the Stroh Center. That's a winnable game for Central and one they should be able to compete in. If the Chips get beaten soundly by the Falcons, it's going to be a long season in Mt. Pleasant.