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Toledo Rockets vs. Bowling Green Falcons men's basketball recap: Boothe leads Rockets to 81-74 Battle of I-75 victory

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The Rockets used several runs and a hot shooting night from Stuckey Mosley to win their second MAC game in a row and capture their fifth straight Battle of I-75.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Toledo Rockets continued to assert their athletics dominance over the Bowling Green Falcons with an 81-74 victory on Tuesday night in front of 3,304 fans at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green. The Rockets, who won their sixth straight football game over BGSU in November, downed the Falcons' basketball team for the fifth consecutive time. Bowling Green last defeated Toledo on Feb. 11, 2012.

Despite the loss, the Falcons were incredibly resilient and refused to let the Rockets put the game away. Toledo scored the first seven points of the game, then had runs of 9-1, 13-0 and 14-2 at various points which gave them leads of 16-7, 29-16 and 70-58. BGSU responded to each surge by clawing back to get within one possession or tie the game.

The ultimate keys to Toledo's victory lay in the performances of two players in the second half.

Nathan Boothe, the MAC's leading scorer, was able to consistently create opportunities for himself and got to the free throw line several times, where he made five of six shots in the second half. Boothe scored 13 of his 21 points after halftime.

On the other hand, BGSU's Zack Denny was not able to get anything going against the Rockets' defense. He made six of nine shots, including both of his three-pointers, in the first half and scored 15 points. However, he finished with just four more and missed all four of his attempts from behind the arc in the second half. The last miss came with 23 seconds left and could have cut Toledo's lead to just two.

Toledo also got outstanding performances from Stuckey Mosley and Jonathan Williams. Mosley nailed six of his eight shots and posted 19 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Williams added 14. Both dropped in a trio of three-pointers.

The Rockets opened the game by making their first three shots while the Falcons failed on their first seven. Boothe drilled a trey to open the game and Mosley followed with a pair of buckets for a 7-0 lead. BGSU scored six straight to cut the lead to one but then went cold again for a three-minute span, in which Toledo went up 16-7.

Denny finally ended the drought with a quick five points, as he led BGSU on a 9-0 run to tie the game. However, another three by Mosley sparked another Rockets' run. This time, they scored 13 straight for a 29-16 edge.

The Falcons would not go away, and when Toledo failed to make a field goal over the final 5:02 of the first half, Bowling Green was finally able to even the game again. Antwon Lillard's bucket with 56 seconds left sent the game to halftime tied at 40.

Like he did in the first half, Boothe opened the second half with a score to briefly reclaim the lead for Toledo. That lead was very short-lived. David Joseph took a pass from Spencer Parker and drilled a three; at 43-42, the Falcons finally had their first lead of the game.

From there, the two teams battled back and forth for the first nine minutes of the second half. With the score tied at 56, Rasheed Worrell fouled Zach Garber, who sank both free throws. That started a 14-2 run as BGSU went cold from the field for five minutes.

The Falcons recovered again and were able to close the deficit to 75-73, but the Rockets made key free throws down the stretch and held on for the 81-74 win.

Toledo shot 49 percent from the field overall, including 8-for-15 from beyond the arc. They also made 23 of 30 free throw attempts. The Falcons shot 44.1 percent, but after halftime, they were just 1-for-7 from long range and 11-for-17 at the charity stripe.

Bowling Green was out-rebounded 36-32 but outscored the Rockets 32-20 in the paint. They also won the turnover battle by creating 13 takeaways while only giving up nine turnovers. The Falcons turned this 13 takeaways into 19 points.

Neither of these teams can rest, as both have important MAC games on Saturday. Toledo gets a chance at revenge as they play at Northern Illinois. UT lost 71-66 at home against NIU last Tuesday. Meanwhile, BGSU hosts Kent State in their "Centennial" game. The Flashes won tonight to improve to 4-1 in the MAC.

Both UT and BGSU are now 12-6 overall and 3-2 in MAC games.