The Toledo Rockets entered Saturday's contest in Muncie on a hot streak, and that's how the visitors left, too.
Toledo (15-8, 7-3 MAC) handled Ball State (7-14, 2-8 MAC) 72-61 to extend its win streak to five. The Cardinals suffered their eighth straight defeat on the afternoon, falling farther into the MAC cellar after a 2-0 conference start.
The Rockets led for all but the first three minutes of the contest, building a 16-point lead at halftime and cruising to a comfortable win at Worthen Arena.
Julius Brown led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 9-of-11 from two-point range and 6-of-6 free-throw shooting. Justin Drummond's 15 points and Jonathan Williams' 12 helped the Toledo cause. Brown also picked up a game-high six assists.
Franko House led Ball State with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and Jeremiah Davis (12) and Francis Kiapway (11) joined House in double figures. Davis also chipped in four steals to lead all players.
Cardinals' leading scorer Sean Sellers shot just 1-of-6 for five points on the afternoon.
Toledo took control of the game from the outset, as Ball State enjoyed a 4-2 lead in the first two minutes and trailed for the remainder. Shooting a scorching 65 percent from the field in the first half to go along with 10-of-12 free throw shooting, the Rockets led by as many as 19 in the opening frame.
16 points from Brown led Toledo to a 43-27 advantage at the break, putting him ahead of teammate Drummond and opponent House's nine apiece. Each of Brown's first-half points came from within the arc or at the free-throw line, a relative rarity for the Rockets bomber.
A slower Toledo offensive start and an uptick in fouls in the second half allowed the Cardinals to pull within nine with three minutes to play, but Brown's continued success driving on the Ball State defense kept the hosts at an arm's length until the finish. Despite holding a slight advantage in the second half, 6-of-32 three-point shooting prevented the Cardinals from mounting a real attempt at the lead before the contest ended with a 72-61 Toledo win.
Toledo will next travel to Buffalo to take on the Bulls Tuesday in a heavyweight fight between MAC title contenders. The Cardinals will head west to do battle with Northern Illinois Tuesday.
|Points||J. Brown (24)||F. House (19)|
|Rebounds||J.D. Weatherspoon (8)||Bo Calhoun (8)|
|Assists||J. Brown (6)||J. Davis (3)|
|Blocks||Four tied (1)||F. House (1)|
|Steals||Three tied (2)||J. Davis (4)|