Box Score (PDF)
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Despite a career-high 24 points off of the bench by graduate forward Kevin Mickle (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and a third double-double from freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.), the Ohio men's basketball team (10-15, 3-10 MAC) was unable to overcome a slow start in an 82-74 loss to Mid-American Conference West Division foe Toledo (19-7, 11-2 MAC) on Tuesday (Feb. 13) at Savage Arena.
The Rockets raced out to a 15-0 lead over the first five minutes of play, and the Bobcats never quite recovered despite outscoring Toledo by a 74-67 count the rest of the way.
The Bobcats lost despite leading the way in rebounds (37-33), points in the paint (36-22) and bench points (39-20). Toledo took advantage of 37 attempts at the free throw line, making 32 foul shots for an 86.5 percent success rate. The Rockets went 28-of-33 from the charity stripe in the second half, allowing Toledo to seal the victory despite shooting just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
"They came out and pressured us, and we didn't attack well," said fourth-year head coach Saul Phillips. "Once again, they came out absolutely blazing. Take away that stretch, and you've got yourself a really interesting ballgame."
Mickle provided Ohio with a lift with his performance off of the bench, going 10-of-19 from the floor with a three-pointer and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. The contest marked his first career game with at least 20 points. He has now finished in double figures 10 times this year. Mickle also finished with six rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 24 minutes.
"The last two games, he's been much more active," said Phillips of Mickle. "The guys did a good job of recognizing that he felt good and kept delivering the ball."
Kirk finished with 21 points and a game-high 10 boards to achieve another double-double. He shot 7-of-11 from both the field and the free throw line, shaking off a tough first half in which he went 1-of-3 for two points with a second half in which he went 6-of-8 for 19 points. He has now finished in double figures in points a team-high 23 times this season -- including each of the last 17 contests. He posted his fifth outing with at least 20 points this year. Kirk also totaled an assist, a block and a steal over 26 minutes of work.
"He's growing and maturing as a point guard every day," said Phillips of Kirk. "We saw what he can be at his best, and we saw a pretty tough version in the first half. Keep working on drawing out the positives and eliminating some of the mistakes, and we've got ourselves a heck of a player. You can argue for a good chunk of the second half, he was the best player out there."
Redshirt sophomore guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) joined Mickle in helping the Bobcats account for 39 bench points, scoring 11 ponts off of 3-of-6 shooting from the floor -- including a pair of treys -- and 3-of-3 shooting from the charity stripe. He finished in double figures for the sixth time this year. Gollon also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
Junior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) -- the MAC's leading shot blocker in 2017-18 -- added to his total with four blocks -- including three in the second half. He also chipped in two points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
Three-pointers by senior guard/forward Tre'Shaun Fletcher, freshman guard Marreon Jackson and junior forward Nate Navigato helped Toledo build a 15-0 lead in the early going while Ohio struggled to get going, with the Bobcats missing their first seven shots. Junior guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finally ended the drought by hitting a jumper.
Mickle then brought the Bobcats back into the game, scoring 11 points in a span of 2:26 to cut Toledo's lead down to seven at 20-13 with 11:40 to go in the half. Mickle's hot stretch included a three-pointer and a windmill dunk.
Toledo's lead swelled to a game-high 18 at 37-19 with just under five minutes to go, though, with a pair of three-pointers by Navigato, a trey by sophomore guard Justin Roberts and a dunk by junior forward Taylor Adway giving the Rockets a cushion. Ohio gave itself a chance to get back in the game in the second half, however, by closing out the opening 20 minutes on a 10-2 run over the final 4:25. Two triples from Laster and another by Gollon helped the Bobcats take advantage of a stretch in which Toledo turned the ball over three times and went 1-of-5 from the field.
Kirk shaved Ohio's deficit down to seven at 43-36 with just over 17 minutes to go with five points in the first three minutes of the second half. The Rockets used a 12-2 run to go back up by 17, though, at 55-38 with just under 13 minutes to go. The Bobcats cut Toledo's lead down to eight courtesy of a layup by Kirk, a layup and a jumper by Mickle and a three by Laster, but a 9-2 run by the Rockets made it a 62-49 score in favor of the home team with 6:20 to go.
An and-one layup by Kirk, a pair of free throws from Mickle and a layup by Gollon made it a six-point game at 65-59 with 3:56 to play. That's as close as the Bobcats got, though, as a jumper by Fletcher and two free throws apiece from junior guard Jaelan Sanford and Roberts helped put the Rockets back up by 10 with 1:30 to play and forced Ohio to play the foul game the rest of the way.
Sanford led the way for Toledo with 21 points off a 6-of-9 performance from the field that included two triples and a 7-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He also had five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 37 minutes. Fletcher finished with 17 points, going 5-of-11 from the floor with a three-pointer and 6-of-6 from the line. He led the Rockets with eight rebounds and also added an assist, a block and a steal over 36 minutes. Navigato also finished in double figures, scoring 15 points after hitting three treys and making 6-of-8 free throws. He also chipped in five rebounds and a team-high four assists in 30 minutes.
Ohio returns to the friendly confines of the Convo to take on MAC East Division archrival Miami (13-13, 6-7 MAC) in a 3:30 p.m. ET 'Battle of the Bricks' matchup on Saturday (Feb. 17). The contest will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.