“We played a very good first half, but we didn’t sustain our defensive effort,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We knew Loyola would come right at us after halftime, and that’s what they did. Loyola is a veteran team, and the way we started the second half defensively ended up costing us.”
Junior guard Milton Doyle topped the Ramblers with 26 points, including a pair of big treys in the final minutes which put the hosts ahead to stay. Joining Doyle in double figures were senior guard Earl Peterson (18 pts.) and senior forward Montel James (11 pts., team-high 9 reb.).
Toledo registered a 41.0 field-goal percentage and converted 28.6 percent (6-of-21) of its three-point attempts. The Ramblers shot 45.7 percent from the field and knocked down 8-of-16 (50.0 percent) of their three-point shots.
Loyola held a considerable advantage at the charity stripe, making 19-of-25 shots (76.0 percent) compared to UT’s 6-of-10 effort. The Ramblers controlled the glass as well with a 37-30 rebounding margin.
Toledo did force 17 turnovers, however, Loyola committed just four miscues in the second half.
Boothe tallied the Rockets’ first 10 points as UT jumped out to a 21-9 lead just over nine minutes into the game. Williams’ back-to-back treys put the Rockets ahead 31-13 with 5:35 left in the first half. Doyle began to heat up late in the opening stanza, tallying the Ramblers’ final nine points to cut UT’s lead to 39-24 at intermission.
Loyola immediately reduced its deficit to single digits early in the second half thanks to a quick 7-0 spurt coming out of the locker room. Boothe responded for the Rockets with a jumper and a trey for a 44-31 advantage with 17:02 remaining.
Toledo maintained a comfortable cushion until back-to-back treys from Doyle and senior guard Devon Turk reduced the Ramblers’ deficit to 52-48 at the 8:27 mark. A Doyle three gave the hosts their first lead in the second half, 57-56, with 4:40 to play. Boothe quickly answered with back-to-back buckets in the next minute to put UT back on top, 60-57.
Following a Peterson free throw at the 2:56 mark, Doyle buried back-to-back treys to give the Ramblers the lead for good. Doyle’s first three followed a Boothe miss and put UT down, 61-60, with 2:25 to play. After a Rocket turnover, Doyle's bomb made it a two-possession game with 1:25 remaining.
Boothe’s two free throw with 1:05 left made the score 64-62, but Loyola hit five of six free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
Toledo will now head to Alaska on Monday to compete in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Rockets open play in the tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 25 against San Jose State. The contest will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network and tip off at 11:30 p.m. EST.