Rockets score at will in 96-56 rout over Falcons

TOLEDO — In front of 6,712 fans at Savage Arena Friday, Toledo’s offense virtually had its way with Bowling Green State University, downing the Falcons 96-56 during both teams’ regular season finale.

It secures the first-ever second straight regular season Mid-American Conference title for the Rockets.

Toledo, 25-6 overall and 17-3 in the league, will head to Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse next week as the No. 1 seed during the MAC Tournament.

The Falcons’ season concludes at 13-18 overall and 6-14 in the MAC. The Falcons headed into the Toledo contest with a chance to get the seventh or final eighth seed in the league tournament.

They had to down the Rockets first, then get a little help from other MAC teams.

“It’s definitely disappointing not only for myself, but for my team,” BGSU coach Michael Huger said.

“The guys worked hard, and we knew what was at stake. We knew what we had to do to get the spot. We don’t know what the other teams did but the only thing we can control is us.

“We weren’t able to take care of business, so we won’t be going,” added Huger.

Huger said his team failed at the defensive end, which has been a common theme for BGSU all season.

“We were right there to start the game the first 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes and then they start to pull away and we weren’t able to score enough points to keep pace with them,” Huger said.

“We took some ill-advised shots that led to their transition on the other end. Once it got to about 19, they just pulled away and they beat us.”

To beat the Falcons and clinch, Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk said the goal was to stop BGSU 6-foot-6 senior forward Daeqwon Plowden and 6-6 graduate forward Trey Diggs.

Plowden and Diggs combined for 26 points, but five Toledo players accounted for 86 of their 96 points.

“I think Bowling Green is a talented team,” Kowalczyk said. “Daeqwon Plowden and Diggs are hard to defend, and we had to play well to beat them.

“Tonight, we played exceptionally well. We moved the ball and we continued to stay humble and stay hungry.”

Plowden, playing in his last game as a Falcon, had 19 points, two assists and blocked two shots, but he was more unhappy with his team’s performance than anything else.

“We knew Toledo was a really good team. We came out lacking focus a little bit,” Plowden said. “We were just lax on defense.

“Knowing Toledo is a good scoring team, they took full advantage and executed like they were supposed to. On our end, we didn’t do a great job defensively,” Plowden added.

Plowden hit a 10-foot jumper off the glass with 11:53 remaining in the first half to tie the game at 12-all. Toledo followed by going on a 14-2 run and never looked back.

In the second half, off a steal by sophomore guard Ryan Rollins, Toledo junior forward Setrick Millner Jr. dunked the ball on a dish from freshman guard Ra’Heim Moss.

Millner’s dunk brought down the near capacity-house, and it gave Toledo a commanding 70-41 lead with 12:37 left to play in the game.

Huger called a time-out, but the Rockets continued their offensive onslaught and soon after, both teams began emptying their bench.

Toledo got five players into double figures, led by 6-foot-7 junior forward J.T. Shumate, who was 8-for-9 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from downtown, finishing with 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

Millner finished with 19 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Rollins had 18 points, three assists and two steals, plus became the first Toledo player in program history to score his 1,000th career point in his first two seasons on the court.

Moss finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, and junior guard RayJ Dennis had 12 points and nine assists.

Freshman forward Kooper Jacobi and junior guard Keshaun Sanders scored four points apiece and freshman guard E.J. Farmer had two points and five rebounds to round out the Rockets’ scoring.

Toledo shot 58% (37-for-64) from the floor, including 50% (12-for-24) from downtown, made 10-of-14 free throws (71%), and had just eight turnovers.

The Rockets outrebounded the Falcons 46-28, outscored the Falcons in the paint 46-30, and had 15 fast break points to BGSU’s three. BGSU never led the entire game.

BGSU shot 35% (23-for-65) from the field, 29% from beyond the arc (7-for-24) and made just three of eight free throws (38%).

BGSU junior guard Chandler Turner had 10 points and two assists and senior forward Matiss Kulackovskis had eight points and four rebounds.

Graduate forward Trey Diggs had seven points, four rebounds and three assists and sophomore guard Brenton Mills scored six points for the Falcons.

BGSU junior guard Samari Curtis scored five and sophomore guard Josiah Fulcher had four points, five rebounds and four assists.