DAYTON — The University of Toledo men’s basketball team got a career-high 23 points from sophomore Jaelan Sanford and a key 3-pointer from senior Jonathan Williams as the Rockets erased a second half deficit and won 82-78 over Wright State on Saturday at the Nutter Center.
With Toledo trailing 76-74 with 1:07 left, Williams drained a 3 coming out of a timeout to give Toledo a 77-76 lead that they did not relinquish.
“I just saw that the clock was winding down, and it was kind of a busted play at the end,” Williams said. “When the clock was running down I just knew I had to make a play, and I was confident in myself.”
The Rockets followed with defensive stops and two free throws each from Sanford and Williams to push the lead to 81-76.
“The shot when Jon-Jon hits a 3, and we come down, and get a stop, and get fouled, and Jaelan makes two foul shots, and we get up by three, that was a huge play,” UT coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “And then we got another stop. So we won it on the defensive end.”
Williams then missed two free throws, and Wright State’s Mark Alstork came down the court and hit what was later ruled a two-point shot to make it 81-78. Nate Navigato hit one of two free throws and Toledo held on for the 82-78 win.
“We came out in the second half and got up a little bit and played confidently,” Kowalczyk said. “We went through another lull where we let them dribble drive a little too much, but we closed out the game the right way.”
Sanford hit three 3-pointers on his way to his 23 points, while Williams added 22 points with three 3-pointers of his own. Steve Taylor, Jr., recorded his second straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“The senior leadership was great,” Kowalczyk said. “Jon hit a huge shot. I’m proud of Jon. He didn’t play real well but ended up with a pretty good game. That’s the sign of a good player, that when it’s really not his night, he still stayed in it and stayed positive at the end and made big plays. And Steve Taylor was a man all night.”
Toledo trailed 72-65 with 4:56 left but closed out the game on a 17-6 run to come away with the win.
“It was a great team win for us,” Sanford said. “It was great to get back on top and finish this one out. It was just a great win overall. My teammates helped me get me shot open. Steve would kick it out or Jon would make an extra pass and we just found the open guy.”
The Rockets survived a 39-point performance from Alstork, who shot 15 of 25 from the field and 3 for 9 from the 3-point line.
Toledo led by as many as eight points in the first half after a Sanford basket gave the Rockets a 24-16 lead with 9:18 left in the first half.
Wright State responded with a 23-8 run during the next six-plus minutes capped off with a layup by Alstork, which gave the Raiders a 39-32 lead with 2:48 left in the first half.
Toledo, however, closed the half on a 6-0 run with layups from Jordan Lauf and Williams and a basket by Taylor. Wright State went into the locker room with a 39-38 lead.
“I feel like it's a separation game,” Williams said. “A couple years ago when we won these type of games, we created separation for ourselves. This is a good win for us to start our 10-day trip.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.