The Toledo Rockets (11-9) marched into the Convocation Center and beat the Ohio Bobcats (12-6) 79-76 on Tuesday night. The Rockets came into Athens looking for revenge after suffering a tough loss to the Bobcats 81-79 just over a year ago. The Bobcats have now lost two of their last three with forward Antonio Campbell out for the season.
This was a big win for Toledo and Head Coach Tom Kowalczyk. Beating a great defensive team like Ohio has not been a trend of Toledo’s at all this season. Even though Toledo committed 13 turnovers to Ohio’s 9, they still prevailed in the end by a small margin. The Rockets were down 39-34 at the break, but were confident going into the second half with 48 percent success rate from the field. The second half was back and forth, until Toledo took a small 78-73 lead with 1:12 left. The Bobcats answered right away with a triple from Gavin Block to cut the lead to just three. Jonathan Williams went on to hit one out of two free throws with 19 seconds left to secure the win over Ohio 79-76.
Steve Taylor Jr. had a big helping hand in the win. Taylor scored 25 points, and added 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals. The Marquette transfer is tied for second in the nation for most double-doubles with 14. Taylor was exceptional in this win, but he did commit a whopping seven turnovers which made the win a lot harder for the Rockets to capture. Toledo’s top scorer this year, Jonathan Williams, has been struggling lately. He has failed to eclipse the 20 point mark in his last two games, and has converted on just one of his last 20 attempts from beyond the arc. With the Rockets making a push in the MAC West right now, Williams needs to be a lot better.
Ohio played a solid game of basketball against Toledo, but no one on Ohio’s roster can fill the void of the first team All-MAC forward Antonio Campbell. Freshman Jason Carter has done his best to fill the void at forward for the Bobcats. Carter led the team in scoring against Toledo, putting up 20 points, with seven boards, one block, and one steal. Since Campbell has been out, Carter has averaged 24.8 minutes, 13.8 points, and 9.5 rebounds in just four games. The freshman from Johnstown, Ohio will have to continue his strong play to help the Bobcats push from the second spot to the top spot in the MAC East.
Reliable junior Jaaron Simmons helped Ohio compete against the Rockets, scoring 17 points and dishing out 10 assists for his third double-double of the season. Simmons has averaged 38.3 minutes, 19.7 points, and 6.7 assists in his Ohio’s last three outings. With team leader Antonio Campbell out, the Bobcats are going to rely on Simmons’ elite game and leadership to keep the Bobcats competitive in the MAC.
The Rockets will move on from this win at fourth in the MAC West, and will take on the Northern Illinois Huskies in their next game. The Huskies are just one game ahead of Toledo in the MAC West, and have lost their last two games to Ohio and Kent State. Ohio will go on to face a struggling Bowling Green Falcons squad, and try to break out of their recent funk.