Rockets advance to Cleveland with 60-53 first-round MAC Tournament win over Miami

March 6, 2012 | News, UToday
By Steve Easton

Rian Pearson poured in 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as the Rockets beat Miami, 60-53, to advance to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.

Toledo (17-15) punched its ticket to Cleveland Monday evening with a 60-53 victory over Miami (9-21) in the first round of the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The No. 7 seed Rockets will meet No. 11 seed Central Michigan Wednesday, March 7, at 9:30 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena.

Sophomore guard Rian Pearson provided Rocket fans with another spectacular performance, registering a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Junior forward Matt Smith also was in double figures with 12 points in addition to grabbing eight boards.

Toledo dominated the RedHawks on the glass, 39-28, thanks to the board work from Pearson, Smith and sophomore forward Reese Holliday (4 points, 8 rebounds).

Miami was led by junior Drew McGhee’s career-high 16 points and eight rebounds. UT limited the MAC’s leading scorer and rebounder, senior Julian Mavunga, to 12 points and six boards.

The RedHawks started the game quickly, taking a 9-3 lead in the first five minutes before UT whittled away to tie the contest at 15-15. Toledo couldn’t pull ahead though until an eight-point spurt to end the half gave the Rockets a 32-24 advantage.

The Rockets carried that momentum into the second half and stretched their lead into double digits, 41-30, less than four minutes into the second stanza. UT appeared to be on its way to a comfortable victory when freshman guard Julius Brown’s lay-up gave Toledo its largest lead of the evening, 49-33, with 11:16 to play. Miami answered though with a 20-3 run capped off by three straight treys to take a 53-52 advantage with 5:35 remaining.

Those points were the last the visitors would score as Pearson quickly restored UT’s advantage on its next possession and junior guard Dominique Buckley (seven points, game-high four steals) and Holliday scored with 3:31 and 1:49 to play, respectively, for a five-point cushion. Junior guard Curtis Dennis accounted for the Rockets’ final two points with a pair of free throws at the one-minute mark.

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