One and done for the Rockets

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Toledo, as the two seed in the MAC Tournament, lost Thursday in the quarterfinals to the seven seed Northern Illinois 80-76.

Eugene German scored 27 points for NIU.

Four players scored in double figures for the Rockets.

Watch 13abc Action News at 11 p.m. for coverage from Cleveland.

Post game news conference:

KEN MATHER: We're going to go ahead and let Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk open with an opening statement, and then we'll take questions for our student athletes, Jaelan Sanford and also Nate Navigato.

COACH KOWALCZYK: Obviously a tough loss for us. It wasn't from a lack of effort, that's for sure. I thought we played exceptionally hard, as did Northern. I thought it was a really good college basketball game for the most part. Had a really good start, got up 7 or so and had three consecutive turnovers, which really kind of hurt a run for us.

But give Thorpe credit, he's a top 2 scorer in our league for a reason. He hit some unbelievably tough shots.

But proud of our team. You know, proud of our effort. Excited to continue to play. You know, all the analytics today, a net of 60, RPI of 34, KenPom 53. Be shocked if we're not in. And we've got great administrators in our league with a great commissioner as well as Ricky Stokes. You know, they need to go to bat and get this team what it deserves and that's to play in the NIT and we'll be very proud to play in that NIT. But these two guys had phenomenal years for us and they look forward to playing for the postseason.

Q. Jaelan or Nate, what was Northern Illinois able to do offensively that kind of gave you guys problems? They shot 56 percent. What did you see defensively from them?

JAELAN SANFORD: They just hit some tough shots. I mean, defensively for the most part we were there, some guys just made some shots. I mean...

NATE NAVIGATO: I think just a couple instances we let them get too comfortable, but other than that I thought we were there, but they had some tough shots.

Q. What was it that they did that particularly they really, particularly in the second half, worked inside quite a bit and you guys seemed to be on them. But was it pressure, was it pressure from your point of going after them that really kind of sometimes you do so much that

COACH KOWALCZYK: I think you look at, you know, they went inside to Bradley, who they went inside to against Navigato. In the first half we had good success the last two times we played them. I think he was 1 5 at our place and 2 11 at their place. And we double teamed them on that right block and he turned it over a little bit.

I thought particularly early Willie had some some doubles in the post that were too quick and that's how they got a couple open 3s. So we stopped double teaming them.

I've got to be honest with you, looking at the stat sheet after the game, I thought he'd have a lot more points than he did. He had 13 points on 5 12 shooting. Seemed like he was impacting the game more than five buckets.

But we didn't want to rotate and double to him because obviously with German shooting the way he was. And I do think obviously there was some situations where we were there, but we weren't in them enough. You know, I think German's first 3, Spencer was on him, just wasn't into him. Second half, Jaelan was on Richie but not into him and he didn't have high hands. There was some shots that were right there, we just didn't impact it enough.

But, you know, they're also we're first as far as 3 point field goals made and I believe they're dead last, right, Elton? I think they're dead last, I'm pretty sure, or close to it in 3 point field goals made. They've got a good offensive team. But they're not a great 3 point shooting team. Tonight they're 10 17.

KEN MATHER: Any further questions for our student athletes? Thank you for your time. We'll continue with more questions for Coach.

Q. Tod, just got a quick question. When you were when you guys were down 3 with 22 seconds to go and when Marreon took it up, did you say anything to him to like get a quick 2 and foul? Did you want him to shoot a 3?

COACH KOWALCZYK: We said during that we had to stop so we could talk to him. Hey, a quick 2 is okay. The one Spencer fouled out because we didn't want to have Bradley get the ball because they're second in our league in free throw shooting, but it's kind of skewed. They have two really good foul shooters, Bradley's off the charts and Thorpe is pretty good, but the rest of them are not very good foul shooters. So we wound of playing the game of hopefully they missed a couple, and it worked a little bit. Taking a quick 2 at that point in time was a pretty good move and I don't regret it. Obviously it didn't work out down the stretch.

Q. Tod, what was the situation with Willie not on the bench in the second half?

COACH KOWALCZYK: Severe migraine from what we understand in warmups, couldn't go.

Q. How do you think that affected you defensively inside?

COACH KOWALCZYK: Huge. I'm not trying to make excuses, but he impacts that game. You know, he's our when you don't have him, that impacted the game. I'm not trying to take anything away from Northern, but my opinion, we win the game.

Q. I guess just it's hard to you guys have so much regular season success, what is it I know this is a hard question, maybe not fair, but what is it going to take to get this program to the next level? Is it fair for fans to wonder if this program has plateaued?

COACH KOWALCZYK: I don't think it's plateaued. You also have to have some luck in the conference tournament. I'd say Willie going down is bad luck. I say a Tre'Shaun Fletcher blowing out his knee is bad luck. We've got a lot of guys coming back. If you want to use the word "plateau," I'm going to use the word strongly disagree, strongly disagree. Strongly, strongly disagree.

Q. Do you understand the frustration of the fans who see Buffalo going for the fourth time in four years and wonder when's our time?

COACH KOWALCZYK: We'll have our time, we'll have our time.

Q. Coach, you mentioned a little bit about the defense. You mentioned you wanted to get into the guys a little more. Is that kind of what you saw out there defensively? What would you have liked to have seen differently maybe in guarding German and Thorpe and then Bradley inside?

COACH KOWALCZYK: I thought we let them get a little bit too comfortable early on. You know, when you let German, I mean, he did he had some unguardable shots tonight, too. Some shots you look at, you've got to say, you know, hats off to you. There wasn't very many of them. I'll go back and watch the film. There wasn't too many of them that he didn't earn, I'll tell you that. We do a whole defensive chart of how they score against us and I've got a feeling there's going to be a lot of opponent earned tonight where he just flat out made a tough shot.

KEN MATHER: Thank you for your time.