A shorthanded Toledo men’s basketball team saw its successful season come to a close Wednesday evening with a 78-64 loss at Xavier in the first round of the 2019 National Invitation Tournament at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
The Rockets concluded the season with a 25-8 record, the second most victories in school history.The Musketeers will play at Texas in the second round Sunday, March 24.
Senior Jaelan Sanford scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Rockets, who were playing without a pair of injured starters — junior Willie Jackson and sophomore Marreon Jackson.
Senior Chris Darrington registered 18 points, a career-high five rebounds and four assists. Also scoring in double digits was senior Nate Navigato with 16 points on 4 of 7 shooting behind the arc.
“I’m extremely proud of the way we battled against a very talented Xavier team,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We made some turnovers during their second-half run that led to fast-break baskets and it really cost us. Once they gained some separation, it was tough to come back.”
Sophomore Naji Marshall topped Xavier with 20 points, a career-high 21 rebounds, and a team-high six assists. Marshall’s work on the boards helped the Musketeers control the glass by a 51-31 margin.
The Rockets shot 39.0 percent from the field and limited the hosts to a 40.3 shooting mark.
Toledo led by as many as four points in the first half before settling for a 27-27 tie at intermission. Darrington’s layup with 16:04 remaining put the Rockets in front 36-35, marking the last time UT led in the contest. Xavier responded with a 23-2 spurt over the next five and a half minutes to take control.