Toledo stretched its homecourt win streak to 14 games with an 85-74 Mid-American Conference triumph on Sunday evening over Ball State. The victory improved the Rockets' record to 23-4 overall and 11-3 in league play and put UT just one away from tying its school record of 24 in the 1939-40 campaign. The last time Toledo reached the 23-win barrier was 34 years ago in 1979-80 which coincidentally was the last time the Rockets appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
Junior guard Julius Brown tallied a team-high 20 points to top a balanced Toledo attack that saw five players score in double figures. Joining Brown in double digits were sophomore center Nathan Boothe (season-high 17 pts.), junior guard Justin Drummond (17 pts.), junior forward Nathan Boothe (14 pts., team-high eight rebounds) and senior guard Rian Pearson (13 pts., team-high four steals).
The Rockets were red-hot from the field, shooting 56.1 percent (32-of-57) from the field for their best shooting mark since a 56.1 mark vs. Central Michigan on Jan. 12. Toledo also knocked down 43.8 percent (7-of-16) of its long-distance attempts and 77.8 percent (14-of-18) of its free throws.
Senior forward Chris Bond paced the Cardinals with a game-high 22 points, while senior guard Jesse Berry contributed 17 points.
Ball State (4-21, 1-13 MAC) posted a 45.9 FG% (28-of-61) and was 8-of-22 (36.4%) from three-point range and 10-of-17 (58.8%) from the charity stripe.
The Cardinals took an early 9-4 lead, but Toledo quickly answered with an 8-0 burst capped off by a Brown trey with 15:16 remaining in the first half. The Cardinals kept the game close and were within 33-31 just under three minutes before halftime following a Berry three-pointer. UT responded though with the final eight points for a 42-31 advantage at intermission.
The Rockets saw that double-digit cushion dwindle right away following halftime as the visitors scored the first six points. Ball State kept pushing and eventually evened the score, 60-60, on a Berry trey with 8:24 left. Drummond immediately put UT back on top, 62-60, with a driving layup and added a jumper at the 6:35 mark for a 66-61 lead.
Toledo put the Cardinals away after Boothe's four straight points put the Rockets up, 80-70, with 1:50 to play.
UT is back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 26 with a trip to DeKalb, IL to face Northern Illinois (12-14, 6-8 MAC). The Huskies dropped a 70-67 decision at Central Michigan this afternoon.