Rockets Rally To Edge Seahawks, 75-73
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
TOLEDO, Ohio - Junior guard Dominique Buckley poured in 18 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to ignite a late surge and lift host Toledo over UNCW, 75-73, in a non-conference men's basketball game Wednesday night at John F. Savage Arena.
The Rockets won their fifth consecutive game to improve to 5-1 on the season and won for the second time in as many tries at home. The Seahawks dipped to 0-5 and fell in their third road test of the season.
Four of Toledo's five starters reached double figures, topped by Buckley, who scored nine of his points at the free throw stripe. He went 5-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-10 at the foul line as the Rockets converted 15-of-21 free throws. Sophomore guard Rian Pearson added 18 points, freshman guard Julius Brown scored 15 and sophomore forward Matt Smith had 12 for UT.
UT's second half comeback overshadowed an outstanding individual performance by UNCW freshman Adam Smith, who pumped in a career-high 27 points on 11-of-20 from the field and 2-of-2 at the line. Another freshman guard, K.K. Simmons, scored a career-high 11 points in his first start and junior forward Keith Rendleman chipped in 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Seahawks, playing the first leg of a four-game road swing, took control early in the first half and still led with 5:31 showing before the Rockets rallied behind Buckley and Pearson.
After Smith staked the Seahawks to a 64-60 advantage with a fadeaway jumper along the left baseline, Buckley strung together seven straight points. He scored on a layup and free throw to close the gap to 64-63 and added four free throws to give UT a narrow 67-64 edge.
Buckley later tossed in two more free throws and Brown converted a layp to put UT ahead, 75-68, before Simmons drained a triple and Smith added a pair of free throws to tighten the game to 75-73 with 41 seconds on the clock.
The Rockets missed from close range as the shot clock wound down with five seconds left, but Smith's desperation heave glanced off the bottom of the net as time expired.
Both teams came out firing in the early going, combining to connect on eight of their first 13 field goal attempts, before the slippery Smith heated up.
After Pearson was fouled behind the arc and made two free throws to give UT a 14-11 edge at 14:25, Smith took over. He scored seven points in a 12-2 spurt that helped the Seahawks grab control, 23-16, with just under 11 minutes remaining.
The Seahawks increased the lead to 10 points, 29-19, when sophomore guard Tanner Milson rattled in a three-pointer from the left side to cap a six-point flurry.
The Rockets then rallied behind Brown's long distance shooting to tie the game at 32-all. Brown drained three consecutive triples and Pearson's putback at 3:16 brought UT even. However, Smith answered with his third trifecta of the half and Simmons made a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left to give the Seahawks a 41-37 advantage at the break.
The Seahawks continue their road journey on Saturday when they return to the Midwest to battle Illinois State at 7 p.m. in Normal, Ill. The Rockets visit the Windy City on Saturday to take on Chicago State in a 3 p.m. tip-off.
GAME NOTES: Adam Smith's 17 points in the first half topped his 16-point effort in the opening 20 minutes of his collegiate career at Maryland on Nov. 13...Eight Seahawks scored in the contest...Toledo built a 36-33 advantage on the glass...K.K. Simmons did not have a turnover in 27 minutes in his first start at point guard...UT outscored UNCW in the paint, 34-18...The Seahawk bench outscored their counterparts, 11-0...UT shot 52 percent in the second half...UT snapped a two-game losing streak to UNCW and evened the all-time series at 2-all...Senior guard Trevor Deloach celebrated his 23rd birthday by scoring two points and collecting four rebounds...It was the first game this season between the CAA and MAC leagues...UT avenged last year's 64-42 drubbing at Trask Coliseum.