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The run of road games where UMass opens the season with five of six away from the Mullins Center comes to an end on Wednesday night as the Minutemen (1-4) head to Toledo to face the Rockets (1-5) at 7 p.m. The game will serve as the inaugural game at the newly renovated John Savage Arena on Toledo's campus. After Wednesday's game, UMass returns home to host state rival Boston College on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. That game, which will televised nationally on CBS College Sports, will be a celebration of the Classic Era (1899-1959) as part of the 100 Seasons of UMass Basketball.
A heartbreaking loss for a team that battled hard but just game up short. The Minutemen will look to snap this five-game slide on Saturday when they host in-state rival Boston College in the Commonwealth Cup matchup at the Mullins Center. We will see you there.
Gaffney played great defense, forcing Kent's driving shot to rattle out, but Anyijong tipped the ball in at the buzzer to win the game for Toledo, 57-56. The Rockets' student section poured onto the court as the arena went into a frenzy. The officials immediately ran to the scorer's table to say the shot was off in time and the basket is good.
Gaffney gets fouled a a play where it was disputed if he was shooting ... refs rule that he was shooting and the senior captain hits two huge free throws to give UMass a 56-55 lead with 11.6 seconds left to end the Minutemen's over six minute scoring drought.
Gurley fouls on the floor at the other end, fouling out with nine points.
Held ball goes to Toledo on the possession arrow ... UMass went fullcourt press and Gaffney made a great steal diving for the ball ... He called timeout and UMass has the ball down one, 55-54, with 24 seconds left.
UMass gets a much-needed stop at the defensive end. Harris is fouled going upcourt and there is a timeout on the floor.
UMass trails by one, 55-54, with 42 seconds left.
After a big Gaffney board at the defensive end, Lowe is called for a travel for UMass' second straight turnover and the Minutemen trail, 55-54 with 1:23 left.
With UMass down one, 55-54, with just over two minutes left, Gurley drives the lane but is whistled for an offensive foul.
With 3:30 left in the game, UMass is whistled for only its second team foul of the half. There have only been 15 fouls called total in the game tonight. UMass leads by one, 54-53.
For the half fouls are three for Toledo and two for UMass. As it looks like this game is going to be close at the end, there might be a team that needs to put the other on the foul line but doesn't have enough fouls.
Chris Lowe took a runner in the lane with the shot clock running down that came up short. There was a scramble on the floor that resulted with Lynch coming up with the loose ball but the shot clock horn went off. It appeared to me, and the MAC officials observer next to me, that the shot hit the rim, but Toledo is awarded possession.
Gaffney gets a steal and dunk off a Lowe pass and the Minutemen lead, 52-51, with 7:07 left.
This has the makings of going down to the wire.
UMass battles back to take the lead. Harris hits a three from the corner, then C-Lowe picks a pocket and gets a breakaway layup and forces a timeout. UMass up 50-49 with eight minutes left.
Gaffney reentered the game following the timeout and looks to be fine.
Kent gets a breakaway dunk off a steal and Toledo is up 49-43.
UMass shooting has suffered this half as it is down to 38.1% for the game to Toledo's 57.9%.
Matt Glass comes in for Tony Gaffney as it looks like he may have gotten cut on his hand. Athletic trainer Dave Maclutsky is working on him now so he can get back in there.
In the mean time, Tyrone Kent hits a three and Toledo extends its lead to 47-43 with 10:13 left and Derek Kellogg takes a timeout.
Sure enough, as soon as I brag about UMass' defense on shooters the Rockets hit a three and take the lead, 42-41, with 11:52 left in the game.
Toledo is called for another travel. One thing the UMass defenders have done very well is close out on potential shooters. The Rockets have been pump faking often and expecting the Minutemen to come flying out at them and leave their feet. UMass has come out under control however and been able to force some turnovers.
With a timeout on the floor, UMass leads, 39-34, with 15:25 left. Chris Lowe just hit a three to give him 11 points on the night.
The Minutemen are 6-for-13 from behind the arc, while Toledo is 2-for-6.
As the second half gets underway, the UMass Minutewomen are in action back at the Mullins Center where they are taking on Providence. Marnie Dacko's crew currently trails the Friars 40-30 with just under 17 minutes left in th game. You can find the Gametracker link to that contest at UMassAthletics.com.
The best halftime show we've seen so far! Lilia Stepanova put on an impressive bow and arrow performance that incorporated some crazy gymnastics skills. You may have seen her perform on "America's Got Talent". I am both impressed and terrified of her at the same time.
Toledo took the leads with under 10 seconds left, but Lowe got a runner in the lane to fall at the buzzer to give the Minutemen a 32-31 lead heading into halftime.
Lowe led the Minutemen in the first half with eight points. Gaffney added seven to go with five rebounds as UMass got seven of its eight players in the rotation in the scoring column.
Anthony Byrd led Toledo with 11 points.
Anthony Gurley drew the assignment of guarding leading scorer Tyrone Kent (18.2 ppg) and did a great job in the first half. Kent finished the half with three points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Toledo turned the ball over 11 times, while UMass had 10 turnovers. The Rockets scored 15 points off those Minutemen turnovers, while UMass scored seven points off turnovers.
The Rockets shot an impressive 58.3% from the field ... UMass is shooting 42.9% and is 5-for-10 from behind the arc.
With 3:24 left in the half, UMass leads 27-22.
The Minutemen are shooting 43.5% from the field, but a stellar 55.6% (5-9) from 3-point range so far.
After a very long stretch without a whistle, we take the under 8 timeout with 4:44 left in the half and UMass leading 25-20 thanks to a Gaffney 3-pointer.
He leads seven Minutemen in the scoring column with seven.
A nice hustle play by UMass ... Ricky Harris comes up with a loose ball under the basket on the defensive end and spots a streaking Gaffney down the court ... throws a perfect lead pass and Gaffney throws down the dunk.
With six left in the half, UMass leads 22-18, its biggest lead of the game.
A Gary Correia 3-pointer gives UMass its first lead, 15-14, with under 10 left in the half. One of the weirder 3's I've ever seen. It bounced off the rim, bounced a couple times on top of the scoreboard, and then finally fell through the basket.
At the under 12 timeout, UMass has pulled within two with a 5-0 spurt to make it 12-10 with 11:58 left in the half.
Toledo has turned the ball over six times so far, UMass five times. The Rockets come into the game ranked 331 out of 343 D-1 teams (19.4 per game). The Minutemen rank 330 (19.3 per game).
C-Lowe looks ready to play tonight. He just made his third steal of the game already and takes it the length of the floor for an easy layup. Leads to a UT timeout.
The UMass defense forces a shot clock violation.
Matt Glass comes in as UMass' first sub ... Lynch to the bench makes it a smaller lineup for the Minutemen.
A Kent 3-pointer gave the Rockets a 12-5 lead, but Glass hits a trey at the other end to make it 12-8.
At the first media timeout, UMass trails 8-5 with 15:07 left. Tony Gaffney scored UMass' first hoop and Anthony Gurley added a 3-pointer.
Anthony Byrd already has six points to pace the Rockets.
The Minutemen have three steals already, but three turnovers to go with them.
UMass starts the game with two straight steals but is unable to convert.
You might hear the mention of a Toledo player named Emeka Okafor. Yes, you've heard that name before, but no it's not him. He is third cousin of Charlotte Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor, who played collegiately at Connecticut and was No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft.
The national anthem was performed by an a cappella group from the medical school here called "Docappella". They performed in scrubs with stethoscopes around their necks ... definitely the first time I've seen that.
The ceremony to name the court after former Toledo coach Bob Nichols just took place and helped get this already anxious crowd more amped up for tonight's game.
The starters for Toledo:
G 34 Anthony Byrd (Sr., 6-1)
G 4 Jonathan Amos (Sr., 6-4)
F 1 Justin Anyijong (So., 6-9)
F 31 Tyrone Kent (Sr., 6-5)
C 45 Ian Salter (Fr., 6-10)
Kent is the big scorer for the Rockets, averaging 18.2 points per game. He had 13 points and 12 rebounds in last season's, 68-61 UMass victory at the Mullins Center.
Tonight's starters for UMass:
G 14 Chris Lowe
G 5 Ricky Harris
G 12 Anthony Gurley
F 24 Tony Gaffney
C 25 Tyrell Lynch
Gaffney enters tonight's game ranked third nationally in rebounding (13.2 per game) and fourth in blocked shots (5.0 per game).
Ricky Harris passed his coach, Derek Kellogg, on the career 3-pointers list at UMass in the Minutemen's last game at Green Bay. With 139, Harris is seventh on the list with James Life's 148 up next for him.
The renovation on the arena here cut the capacity by about 1,000, down to 7,300, and added suites and club seats. They were still putting the finishing touches on it today in fact. When we were here for shoot around this afternoon, there were workers still bolting in seats and the radio lines for tonight's WRNX broadcast with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney were still being installed.
Tonight's game will mark the 100th of Chris Lowe's career. The senior point guard enters tonight's game fourth in career assist's in UMass history with 507. He is 11 behind Alex Eldridge's 518 career helpers for third.
Welcome to tonight's live blog from Savage Arena here on the campus of the University of Toledo. This is Dave Gunn from the UMass Media Relations Office trying to bring you all the added info to help make your listening experience more complete. Be sure to check out all the links above, including the preview of tonight's game and Luke Bonner's latest blog entry as he rehabs from a knee injury.
The Minutemen are warming up on the court right now. They entered an arena that already had several hundred student fans in the seats awaiting this home opener.
There is a lot of excitement in the air tonight in Toledo as this is the much-anticipated reopening of the "new" Savage Arena. The old home of the Rockets, Savage Hall, has been completely renovated in the offseason. There will be a pre-game ceremony to dedicate "Bob Nichols Court" in honor of Toledo's longtime men's basketball coach. Nichols led the Rockets from 1965-87 and holds the Mid-American Conference record for victories with 376.
There will also be a special ceremony at halftime marking the official name change of the facility from Savage Hall to Savage Arena.
The Rockets, under first year head coach and former Notre Dame assistant Gene Cross, have eagerly anticipated this home opener with their first six contests of 2008-09 coming on the road.