The Toledo Rockets (12-12) beat the Eastern Michigan Eagles (13-11) 73-57 on Tuesday night to snap their three game losing skid, and extend the Eagles losing streak to three. The Rockets were fired up coming back home to Savage Arena to play in front of their home crowd, and it showed. Toledo shot an impressive 53 percent against a strong defensive Eastern Michigan team.
Toledo took a 26-22 lead at half, and then continued to push in the second half. Eastern Michigan was taken aback from a Toledo 22-13 run to start the second half. The Eagles clawed their way back to cut the deficit to 54-47 with seven minutes left, but their offense fell flat and Toledo pulled away with the victory.
The Rockets were led by sophomore Nate Navigato who has been spectacular as of late. Navigato had 16 points, alongside two three pointers and two steals. Other contributors were Jonathan Williams with 14 points and Jaelan Sanford with 12. Five players for the Rockets hit double-digit points, which does not happen often. Usually it is Williams, Sanford, and Steve Taylor Jr. who carry the bulk of the offensive production. This could be a winning recipe for the Rockets moving forward.
The offensive lull continued for Eastern Michigan. The Eagles shot 39 percent from the field, and only two of their players managed to get into double-digits. Eastern Michigan’s top scorer for the season, Willie Mangum IV, scored just 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Even though, Eastern Michigan’s top forward James Thompson IV won the rebound battle against Steve Taylor Jr. with 11, he only managed to put up nine points. Eastern Michigan needs to find different ways to score. They shot 3-for-15 from beyond the arc, which means they need to needle the ball inside more to their big men.
Eastern Michigan did still prove that they are an active defensive team by corralling 10 steals. However, other than their elite rebounder James Thomspon IV, the Eagles struggled to rebound the ball, losing the rebound battle 38-29.
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk is happy that his Rockets finally came away with a crushing win against a good defensive team. The Eagles are going to have to find that igniter on offense to make a push in the MAC. The Rockets take on the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday, while the Eagles will try to bounce back against the MAC leading Akron Zips.