TOLEDO – Sole possession of first place in the MAC's West Division was at stake and Toledo responded by grinding out a 76-72 (OT) triumph over Central Michigan.
The victory moved the Rockets to 2-0 in league play and 6-7 overall, while the Chippewas fell to 1-1 in the MAC and 8-7 overall. CMU is now tied for second place in the West with Ball State (7-7, 1-1) and Northern Illinois (3-11, 1-1) with Western Michigan ( 8-7, 0-2) and Eastern Michigan (7-8, 0-2) tied for fifth place.
Sophomore G Julius Brown led UT with 21 points, nine assists and a career-best seven rebounds and committed just one turnover in a career-high 41 minutes. It was the second straight superb floor game for the Rockets' floor general after he tallied nine assists, seven points and six rebounds with just one miscue in UT's league opener at Kent State on Wednesday.
Brown's backcourt mates also excelled for the Rockets with junior G Rian Pearson and senior G Dominique Buckley tallying 20 and 13 points, respectively.
Senior G Kyle Randall topped the Chippewas with 24 points and was the lone CMU player to score in double figures.
Central Michigan held a slight advantage in the shooting (46.4-45.3 FG%) and rebounding (37-32) department, but Toledo made up for it by matching its season low with seven turnovers.
The Rockets took the lead for good in the extra session when Brown buried a jumper with 1:03 remaining to give UT a 71-70 advantage. Following a Randall miss, Brown knocked down two free throws with 31.1 ticks left for a 73-70 cushion.
After a pair of free throws from freshman F John Simons, Buckley converted one –of-two free throws to make it a two-point game. Randall couldn't get the equalizer for the visitors, and Brown hit two more free throws with one second left for the final margin of victory.
The Rockets will now hit the road for their next two games on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Western Michigan (6:00 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 19 at defending MAC Tournament champion Ohio (6:00 p.m.).