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March 8, 2012

Second round comeback falls short in Cleveland

Trey Zeigler became Central Michigan's first sophomore to score 1,000 points but it came in a season-ending 75-72 loss to Toledo in the second round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The Chippewas (11-21) never led but erased a double-digit deficit late in the game to come within one on several occasions.

The Rockets (18-15) were up 66-55 when a full-court press and baskets on four consecutive possessions sparked the Chippewas to a 9-0 run over the next two minutes.

"Our kids battled," said head coach Ernie Zeigler. "Our young kids are growing up. They had a valiant effort in executing the pressure during that stage when we got down by 10 or 12 and we knew (Toledo) struggled with that pressure. We were able to take advantage of it."

A Derek Jackson three-pointer brought the Chippewas within one, 68-67 with 57 seconds remaining, and they were able to get within a single point two more times, the last of which came with just six seconds left on the clock. But each time the Rockets maintained their lead with free throws, hitting 7-of-8 down the stretch.

Zeigler's 1,000th point came early as he scored 10 of his team-high 17 in the first half.

Central was down as many as 11 in the first half, but responded with five straight points by Jackson and six by Olivier Mbaigoto as a 11-1 run brought the Chippewas within one at the 8:11 mark. They held the Rockets to just one field goal in the last 11 minutes of the half but were down three, 25-22, at halftime.

"We definitely need to build upon this moving forward," said Zeigler. "Our kids are getting better and they're young and they have to be able to sustain that type of effort. We have a ways to go in terms of improving in a lot of different areas. It was something for us to build upon with the young group we have."

Four Chippewas scored in double figures. Jackson scored 16, Mbaigoto finished with 14, and Austin McBroom added 13.

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