The Toledo Rockets opened the season traveling to Philadelphia to battle the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s who have made the Big Dance two of the last three years and fought valiantly before just running out of fuel in a 77-76 loss.
Toledo started off strong in the first half, taking a 41-40 lead into the intermission. The 2nd half was neck and neck as neither team could get much breathing room, with the Hawks hitting a few shots down the stretch to come out on top.
Jonathan Williams led the Rockets with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Williams chipped in 12 points in the first half despite playing only 11 minutes due to foul trouble, in a game where there were 25 fouls called.
Also in double figures for the Rockets were Steve Taylor (14 pts, 7 reb) and Daniel Dzierzawki (13 pts). Nate Navigato led Toledo with 8 rebs and added 8 points.
Taylor’s jumper gave the Rockets a 71-70 lead with 2:04 left, but the Hawks came back to score six straight and hold on to the lead for good.
The Rockets outshot the Hawks 45.9% to 45%, out rebounded them 38-32, but lost the turnover battle 17-13. Toledo did shoot 75% (12-16) from the charity stripe, but the Hawks got to the line 28 times, connecting on 17 of them (60.7%).
The Rockets were 8-22 (36.4%) from beyond the arc.
Toledo had a hard time stopping St. Joe's Shaver Newkirk, who scored a game high 28 points. Not only did Newkirk fill it up, he added 7 rebs and team high 3 assists. Lamarr Kimble added 16 points and James Demery chipped in 11 points, 8 rebs to pace the Hawks.
With the result, the Rockets fall to 54-48 all time in season openers.
The Rockets will welcome in Youngstown State, who topped MAC preseason favorite Akron 90-82, for the home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Savage Arena at 8:00 p.m.