MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Kyle Randall scored a game-high 21 points for his sixth consecutive 20-point night, but Central Michigan's outside shooting kept it from hanging with Toledo in a 73-64 Mid-American Conference loss.
The two teams that had gone into overtime in the first meeting this year were knotted at 31 at the half but the Rockets (12-11, 8-4 MAC) opened the second half with a 9-3 run over the first 3:30 to take a six-point lead from which the Chippewas (9-16, 2-10 MAC) never recovered.
The Chippewas were never really out of reach, down by no more than 13 in the game, after having led by as many as seven in the first half.
A three-pointer by Olivier Mbaigoto with 8:47 remaining- just his seventh of the season and one of only six by the Chippewas tonight - sparked an 8-1 run that brought the Chippewas within six with 6:49 left. Just over three minutes later they had the deficit to five, but that's as close as they could come.
Toledo, the fourth-best free throw shooting team in the country, knocked down 8-of-11 in the final two minutes to keep the Chippewas at bay, converting them when they counted the most after having hit just 10-of-17 (58.8%) from the line in the first 38 minutes.
"We shot well from two and we shot well from the line... but we just fell in love with the three-point shot," said head coach Keno Davis. "We took way too many of those for not shooting well from the perimeter. In a nine-point game where you shoot 6-for-31 from three, you don't have to go much further (to know what happened)."
Randall was one of four Chippewas in double figures, joined by Chris Fowler's 12 points and 11 from both Blake Hibbitts and Mbaigoto.
"(Toledo) did a great job keeping Kyle to 21 points. He had to work hard. There weren't open looks for him out there after the first three or four minutes."
Central will not play again until a week from today, traveling to Youngstown State for the ESPN BracketBuster matchup during the off-week from conference play.
"We have to use this week to try to regroup and understand that it is a new season," said Davis. "This is a time to rest and put a few new things in. It's a week we need, both our freshmen and our seniors who have been going pretty long."
Four of the last five regular-season games will be on the road, followed by the MAC Tournament.