Toledo sent seniors Dominique Buckley and Brendon Schwiebert out with a victory as the Rockets cruised to a 70-46 victory over Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois. The victory moved UT (14-13, 9-6 MAC) into a first-place tie in the MAC West Division with Western Michigan (18-11, 9-6 MAC) following the Broncos' 89-85 home setback to Ball State (14-14, 7-8 MAC).
Junior F Matt Smith led Toledo with a game-high 16 points and a career-high five blocked shots. It was the most rejections by a Rocket since Allen Pinson swatted away seven shots at Duke on Dec. 12, 2004.
Joining Smith in double figures were Buckley (13 points) and junior G Rian Pearson (10 points).
Junior F Aksel Bolin paced the Huskies offensively with 14 points.
Toledo limited the Huskies (5-23, 3-12 MAC) to a miniscule 29.8 field-goal percentage and forced NIU to commit 17 turnovers. The Rockets shot 42.3 percent as a team, including a season-high 10 three-point field goals, en route to its first season series sweep of the visitors since the 2006-07 season.
The battle of the boards was even with both teams hauling down 34 rebounds. Junior C Richard Wonnell paced the Rockets with a season-high seven caroms.
UT led from wire-to-wire and took a double-digit advantage, 17-5, less than six minutes into the contest. Pearson provided the Rockets a 29-10 cushion with his first of two alley-oop slams. NIU scored the half's final four points to cut Toledo's lead to 34-20 at intermission.
Sophomore Kevin Gray opened the second-half scoring on NIU's first possession, but the Rockets responded with a 11-point outburst to give UT an insurmountable 45-22 advantage with 14:31 remaining. Toledo's lead didn't dip below 20 points the remainder of the evening.
Toledo will close out its 2012-13 campaign on Saturday, March 9 at Eastern Michigan (14-16, 7-8 MAC). Tip-off time is set for Noon.
Courtesy: Toledo Athletics