Toledo’s quest for a Mid-American Conference championship came to an end at the hands of a hot-shooting Central Michigan team as the Chippewas beat the Rockets, 75-66, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Friday night.CMU shot 26 of 57 (45.6 percent) from the floor, getting big baskets from junior guard Chris Fowler throughout the game. Fowler led all scorers with 26 points on 12 of 17 from the floor, mostly on drives to the hoops. Junior John Simons complemented Fowler from the outside, hitting 4 of 8 from long range on his way to 23 points.
Toledo was led by seniors Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon with 17 points apiece. Weatherspoon added a game-high 13 rebounds. The Rockets shot 44.4 percent from the floor but committed 12 turnovers to just five for CMU.
Central Michigan took command of the game right away, jumping out to an early 8-2 lead on a pair of three-pointers by Fowler and Simons. Drummond countered with a layup and a three-pointer in a 10-2 UT run that gave the Rockets a 12-10 lead with 12:18 left.
However, Toledo made just 5 of 16 shots for the remainder of the half and committed eight turnovers as the Chippewas built leads as large as 10 points. Fowler made 6 of 8 shots in the first half, scoring 14 points as CMU took a 33-26 lead into the locker room.
CMU then pushed the lead out to as many as 17 early in the second half. Toledo tried to rally, but the Chippewas answered the call each time. The closest the Rockets could get down the stretch was seven points, 53-46, on a Drummond layup with 9:59 remaining. But Simons hit three free throws, and Fowler hit a driving layup to push the lead back out to 12.
Toledo would not get the margin inside 10 again until 1:19 left when Julius Brown hit a layup to cut the lead to 65-57. But Simons and Braylon Rayson each hit a pair of free throws to seal the win for the No. 1 seed Chippewas (23-7).
UT finishes the season with a 20-13 record and will have to wait until Sunday to find out if it will receive a post-season tournament berth. CMU will face the winner of the Akron-Buffalo game.