The University of Toledo men’s basketball team survived a barrage of 3-point attempts from Ohio Northern and pulled away in the second half for a 72-62 victory on Tuesday night at Savage Arena.
Senior Tre’Shaun Fletcher had a big all-around game for Toledo with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Junior Nate Navigato added 18 points and junior Jaelan Sanford scored 13.
“I just tried to just attack it and get downhill and get into the lane and create plays for myself and my teammates,” Fletcher said. “It was just working, so I kept doing it and we came out with the win. I felt like we didn’t play to our standards that we set in the St. Joe’s game. When I felt like that I just wanted to get my team going and get a burst of energy.”
Ohio Northern’s Daniel Donner hit a 3-pointer with 3:32 left in the second half, which cut Toledo’s lead to 64-62. On the next UT possession, Navigato answered with a 3-pointer and the Rockets got the necessary defensive stops as they held Ohio Northern scoreless over the final 3-plus minutes.
“I’m disappointed with our energy tonight,” UT coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “I don’t think we had the same sense of energy and enthusiasm that we had on Saturday [against St. Joseph’s]. I think it’s a valuable lesson that when you play against anybody, the 3-point line is the great equalizer. They had nine 3’s in the first half. The good news was we adjusted at halftime.”
Ohio Northern fired 24 first half 3-pointers, connecting on nine as the Polar Bears trailed 36-35 at halftime. Nate Burger made four 3-pointers in the first half, but was just 1-of-4 in the second half.
Burger ended up with 23 points to lead the Polar Bears and Ryan Bruns added 15 points. Ohio Northern ended up 11-of-35 from 3.
“I thought Burger absolutely lit us up in the first half, but only had one 3 in the second half,” Kowalczyk said. “I thought our defensive effort in the second half was much better. We held them to 32 percent. Bruns is a pretty good low post player and I thought he got too deep of touches.”
One game after shooting 56 percent from the 3-point line against St. Joseph’s, Toledo struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 27 percent (7-of-26) against Ohio Northern.
When Toledo was in need of an offensive spark throughout the game it seemed like Fletcher was there to deliver. He shot 10-of-17 from the field, including 2-of-4 from the 3-point line, and made 5-of-6 free throws.
“What I was really pleased with was Tre’Shaun Fletcher’s leadership and toughness and how hard he played,” Kowalczyk said. “Twenty-seven points, 10 rebounds, and seven assist is a heck of a stat line.”
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