MOUNT PLEASANT - Trey Zeigler scored a career-high 30 points and Jalin Thomas recorded his second double-double in three games to lead Central Michigan to a 65-52 win over Toledo in McGuirk Arena Wednesday night.
The Chippewas (4-11, 1-1 MAC) shot a season-high 48.1 percent from the field while posting their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Rockets (3-13, 0-2 MAC) to just 15 field goals (15-of-43, 34.9 percent).
"It is really refreshing when you see these kids reap the benefits of putting in some extra work and not allowing past shooting woes to affect them and their mindset," head coach Ernie Zeigler said. "For the second game we were really good defensively. That's something that we need to continue to do as we get our offense more and more consistent."
With the game tied, 21-21, at the 6:19 mark of the first half, Zeigler took over. After a block by William McClure, fellow freshman Derek Jackson found Zeigler on a fast break, giving the Maroon and Gold a lead they held for the remainder of the game.
Zeigler hit a 10-foot jumper in the paint, knocked down one of his season-high five three-point field goals, assisted on a Jackson three and hit another mid-range jumper to help the Chippewas close the first half on a 15-7 run and give the team a 36-28 halftime lead.
After the Rockets pulled within four to start the second half, senior forward Jalin Thomas scored five straight points to extend the lead back to nine, 43-34, at the 16:48 mark. The Chippewas continued to pour it on, as Zeigler knocked down back-to-back three pointers and junior Andre Coimbra threw down a thunderous dunk that brought all in McGuirk Arena to their feet, giving CMU a 53-40 lead.
With the game in hand, Zeigler became the first Chippewa freshman to score 30 points in a contest since Mike Manciel scored 30 at Toledo during the 1998-99 season. After a scrum for a loose ball, senior guard Amir Rashid dished out the finest of his season-high seven assists on the night, finding Zeigler for an alley-oop dunk.
"To [Trey's] credit, he's been really going hard here these last three weeks of practice, and it's starting to pay off," coach Zeigler said. "He's playing with confidence, and hopefully it's something we can continue to sustain as we move forward."
Thomas tied his season best with 11 rebounds to go with 15 points. The senior has scored in double figures in 13 of the 15 games this season. Coimbra finished with seven points in the game, all coming in the second half, while McClure pulled down nine boards and recorded two blocks.
The Chippewas held a 38-24 edge on the glass over the Rockets, including a 12-7 advantage on the offensive end. The Maroon and Gold also matched a season best with 16 assists on the night.
Reese Holliday led the way for the Rockets, scoring 14 points and pulling down a team-high six rebounds. Anthony Wright chipped in with 12 points.
CMU will be back in action on Saturday when they take on preseason MAC West Division favorite Ball State (10-4, 2-0 MAC) in Muncie, Ind., at 2 p.m. Saturday