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Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Toledo Rockets men's basketball final: Rockets lift off in second half, defeat Norse 90-73 to complete non-conference schedule

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Big man Nathan Boothe scored 24 to lead five Toledo players who finished in double figures.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After Toledo got its first double-figure lead of the game, it allowed Northern Kentucky to use the closing minutes of the first half to put together a 14-4 run and cut its deficit to one entering halftime. Once it reestablished a big advantage in the second half, however, the Norse never came close to closing the gap again.

The Rockets outscored Northern Kentucky 34-15 on the back of a team-wide 3-point surge led by reigning MAC West Player of the Week junior Jonathan Williams to bury the Norse 90-73 in front of the Savage Arena crowd. Senior Nathan Boothe led all scorers with 24 points, 18 of which came in the first half.

Toledo was very much a one-man show in the game's opening minutes, as Boothe dominated inside, hitting five of his first six shots and entering halftime 7-of-11 from the field. The Rockets began to get some separation around the third media timeout of the first half, but an efficient transformation of Northern Kentucky's offense made it a one-point game entering the half.

Boothe was on his way to a dominant line, but hit a wall in the second half, something that may have doomed the Rockets' evening were it not for the sudden elevation of the rest of the offense around him. Williams' presence behind the arc came alive after he was shut out in the first half, as the guard knocked down three 3-pointers to help pick up the slack of what the Rockets were losing from Boothe's hot start.

Williams scored eight points in the first six minutes of the half to carry Toledo on a 17-4 run, something the Norse never recovered from.

Williams got help from both inside and outside the arc throughout the second half, with freshman Jaelen Sanford (13), freshman Nate Navigato (13) and junior Zach Garber (12) all finishing the night in double figures. Williams, meanwhile, finished with 15 points, a team-high nine rebounds, and four assists.

Toledo's explosion in the second-half didn't happen quickly, but instead acted as a slow burn, waiting until the 6:28 mark to reach a game-high 20-point advantage.

Tyler White led Northern Kentucky with 20 points, while Lavonne Holland and Drew McDonald each finished with 18 points. Toledo outrebounded the Norse 42-26.