MUNCIE, Ind. — The University of Toledo men’s basketball team started fast on Tuesday night, but a comeback effort fell just short in an 81-80 loss to Ball State at Worthen Arena.
Toledo (11-11, 4-5 MAC) played without its leading scorer, Jonathan Williams, who had the flu. Williams came into the game second in the Mid- American Conference in scoring at 20.4 points per game.
Ball State (15-7, 6-3 MAC) led 79-70 with 2:23 left in the game, but Toledo answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Nate Navigato and Luke Knapke to cut the lead to 79-76 with 1:14 left.
After a Cardinals missed shot, UT’s Steve Taylor, Jr., grabbed the rebound and was fouled. With just 14 seconds left, Taylor made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 79-77.
Francis Kiapway made two free throws with seven seconds left for an 81-77 Ball State lead. UT’s Jaelan Sanford responded with a quick 3-pointer with just one second left to cut the deficit to 81-80.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our effort, our togetherness, and our energy level,” UT coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “I thought we came out more than ready to play. We had a lot of guys play their hearts out tonight. We had an unbelievable togetherness and a great spirit about us. Guys were rallying around each other and that’s a good thing to see.”
Even without Williams, the Rockets set the tone early with a 10-0 run to open the game, keyed by two 3-pointers from freshman Justin Roberts, who started in place of Williams. Toledo led by as many as 11 points in the first half and took a 46-44 advantage into halftime
Taylor scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead Toledo. Knapke added 18 points, and Sanford had 15 points.
Toledo had a tough time containing Tayler Persons, who led Ball State with 26 points and eight assists.
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.