Toledo Rockets Basketball

NIT logo1942 NIT Tournament

West Virginia 51 - Toledo 39
Semifinals, New York, NY

New York, NY - Heading into the National Invitational Tournament semifinals, it looked as though the favorites, Toledo and Creighton, would meet in the finals. However, it was quite the contrary.

West Virginia upset the Rockets, 51-39, and Kentucky State Teachers College downed Creighton in the semis.

The Mountaineers managed to tame the powerful Rockets, who featured one of the most feared players in the NCAA in Bob Gerber.

Gerber, who was a two-time All-American, was held in check by West Virginia, scoring just 14 points, while the Mountaineers had two players in double figures.

In the game, Gerber tied the record for most points in the tournament when he hit four field goals in the first half. However, he went on to break the record in the consolation game, a 48-46 loss to Creighton.

1943 NIT Tournament

Toledo 46 - Wash. & Jeff. 39
Semifinals, New York, NY

New York, NY - Toledo took the lead with two minutes remaining in the game and defeated Washington and Jefferson, 46-39, at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 1943. With the win, the Rockets advanced to the final round of the sixth annual National Invitational Tournament. The game attracted a record throng of more than 18,500.

The Presidents raced to a 24-18 halftime lead paced by big Harry Zellers, who tossed in six of Washington and Jefferson's first seven points. The Rockets, however, recovered in the second half and went on a 28-15 run in the second half paced by Dallas Zuber and Davage Minor. Zuber led the Rockets with 18 points and Minor added 11 points.

1943 NIT Tournament

St. John's 48 - Toledo 27
Championship, New York, NY

New York, NY - Powerful St. John's University basketball team won the sixth annual National Invitational Tournament on March 29, 1943, at Madison Square Garden by overwhelming Toledo, 48-27, before a capacity crowd of 18,233.

A six-point spree by the Rockets in the first five minutes of the second half brought Toledo into a 22-all tie for the first time in the game after they were trailing by 12 points at one time. But then St. John's more than made up for that rally with a drive of its own that buried the hopes of the Rockets with 13 minutes remaining in the half.

From that point on, St. John's scored almost at will to win the national tournament for the first time in the school's history. Davage Minor, Toledo's sensational ace who paced the Rockets to their fine record, went scoreless for the contest, missing all three free throws and nine shots from the field.

Robert Heiny and Dallas Zuber paced UT with nine points each.

1981 NIT Tournament

Toledo 91 - American 83
1st Round, Toledo, OH

Toledo, OH - Appearing in a post-season tournament for the third straight year, UT continued its success in March with a 91-83 victory over American University in a first-round NIT game in Centennial Hall.

The first half was more like a heavyweight fight with both sides feeling each other out and going back and forth. Toledo led 39-29 at the intermission, hitting at a 50 percent clip, while American hit on just 38 percent of its shots.

But fireworks went off in the second half as the two teams combined for 106 points in the final 20 minutes. American outscored Toledo, 54-52, during the final period, but it wasn't enough as UT came away with the win.

Senior Harvey Knuckles broke the school single-season scoring mark in the contest with 29 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds. Center Mitch Adamek chipped in with 20 points and 10 boards, while freshman Tim Reiser added 19 points, 11 assists and three steals in his first tournament contest.

1981 NIT Tournament

Michigan 80 - Toledo 68
2nd Round, Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor, MI - The Wolverines were looking for a little revenge against the Rockets, who had defeated them during the previous season, 67-64, in Centennial Hall. And Michigan would get that revenge with an 80-68 win over Toledo in the second round of the NIT at Crisler Arena.

The two teams played to a stalemate in the first half, heading to the locker room deadlocked at 40. The Rockets had pretty much held All-American Mike McGee in check, as the senior forward hit on just 3 of 9 from the field and was 1 of 2 from the line for seven points in the first half.

The Rockets' Harvey Knuckles was more than holding his own against the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer with 17 points and four rebounds in the first half.

McGee, however, proved to be too much for the Rockets as he hit 8 of 15 shots from the field in the second half and finished with 25 for the game. Guard Johnny Johnson also finished strong for the Wolverines with 22 points and four assists. Knuckles finished the game with 27 points and seven rebounds, while Mitch Adamek added 19 points and seven rebounds.

1999 NIT Tournament

Xavier 86 - Toledo 84
1st Round, Toledo, OH

Toledo, OH - Toledo's most successful season in 18 years came to an end with an 86-84 loss to Xavier in the first round of the NIT.

Both offenses were clicking in what was perhaps the most exciting game of the season in Savage Hall. Toledo was led by Greg Stempin and Brett Fedak, who each scored 23 points. Art Norman added 17 points.

The Rockets rallied from a 12-point deficit late in the game, pulling to within three points, 85-82, with 16 seconds left. A Norman three-point attempt would have tied the score, but the shot rattled out. Robert Kizer put in the rebound to make the score, 85-84. A free throw by Xavier gave the Musketeers a two-point lead with less than two seconds left. UT's desperation inbounds pass was then intercepted by Xavier, finishing off the Rockets for good.

The loss made Toledo's final record 19-9, and ended UT's most successful season since the 1980-81 team went 21-10. The game also marked the final appearance for seniors Fedak, Norman and Kizer.

2001 NIT Tournament

Toledo 76 - South Alabama 67
1st Round, Toledo, OH

Toledo, OH - Greg Stempin scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Rockets to a 76-67 overtime victory over South Alabama in the first round of the NIT. The victory allowed the Rockets to advance to a second-round date with Alabama and was UT's first postseason win in 20 years.

The Rockets dominated the overtime after letting the Jaguars tie the contest at the buzzer on a layup by Demetrice Williams, who caught Emmett Thomas' errant three-point attempt and scored on a putback.

Terry Reynolds scored UT's first four points of the extra session and Nick Moore nailed a three-pointer to give the Rockets a five-point cushion. Toledo then sank five of six free throws to clinch the victory. Stempin's thunderous dunk early in the second half gave Toledo a 34-32 lead and ignited a 13-4 spurt that put the Rockets up 40-32.

Also scoring in double figures for the Rockets were the backcourt tandem of Reynolds (13 points) and Moore (10 points).

2001 NIT Tournament

Alabama 79 - Toledo 69
2nd Round, Tuscaloosa, AL

Tuscaloosa, AL - Toledo saw its first 20-win season in 20 years come to a close with a 79-69 setback to Alabama in the second round of the 2001 NIT Tournament.

The Rockets fell behind early and never really recovered as the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 50-33 halftime advantage. UT did make a run in the second half and closed to within 66-56 on a three-pointer by Nick Moore with just under seven minutes to play.

The Crimson Tide answered though with an 8-1 run to secure the win, sparked by a pair of three-pointers by Doc Martin and Travis Stinnett. Alabama shot 47 percent from the floor to Toledo's 40 percent, and dominated the boards by a 42-32 margin.

Greg Stempin closed out his impressive Toledo career with team highs in both points (17) and rebounds (8). Rory Jones added 15 points and Moore had 12.

2004 NIT Tournament

Marquette 87 - Toledo 72
1st Round, Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI - Toledo made its first national-television appearance under Head Coach Stan Joplin on ESPN in the Rockets' 87-72 setback at Marquette in a first-round NIT game.

Travis Diener scored 21 points and tied a career high with 12 assists to lead the Golden Eagles. Keith Triplett scored 20 points for the Rockets. Florentino Valencia scored 13 points - all in the first half - and Sammy Villegas and Ricardo Thomas added 11 for Toledo.

Toledo made nine of its first 15 shots in the second half and led 55-54 with just under 16 minutes to play. But the Rockets then went more than eight minutes without a field goal, missing 12 consecutive shots before Justin Ingram scored on a layup to make it 87-69 with 2:33 to go.

While the Rockets couldn't make a field goal, Marquette went on a 14-0 run to go up 79-63 on Steve Novak's fast-break layup with 7:16 remaining.

Toledo fell behind by 17 points in the first half before beginning its comeback bid. Chris Grimm's 15-foot jumper gave Marquette a 38-21 lead with 7:27 left in the first half, but Toledo used a 20-7 run to pull within 45-41 at halftime.

2007 NIT Tournament

Florida State 77 - Toledo 61
1st Round, Tallahassee, FL

Tallahassee, FL - Toledo saw its memorable season come to an end with a 77-61 setback at Florida State in the first round of the 2007 National Invitation Tournament. The Rockets captured their first Mid-American Conference regular-season title in 27 years with a 14-2 league mark and finished with an overall record of 19-13.

Justin Ingram led the Rockets with 17 points, while Keonta Howell and Florentino Valencia added 13 apiece. The senior trio became the first three 1,000-point scorers to play on the same team in school history. Ingram finished his career with 1,494 points, Valencia with 1,277 points and Howell with 1,144 points.

Future NBA first-round draft pick and the ACC's leading scorer Al Thornton scored 24 points to lead Florida State. The Seminoles led 39-23 at the half behind 15 points from Thornton, who went scoreless the first 5:36 of the game before breaking loose. In a span of just 2:33, Thornton scored four baskets, assisted on another, blocked a shot and grabbed a pair of rebounds as the Seminoles took a 20-13 lead midway through the first half.

Toledo managed to cut its deficit to 45-36 with 15:22 left on two free throws by Howell, but Thornton responded with a dunk and Florida State steadily built its lead to as many as 18 points.

2014 NIT Tournament

Southern Mississippi 66 - Toledo 59
1st Round, Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg, MS - Toledo put together a valiant second-half comeback but Southern Mississippi held off the hard-charging Rockets to post a 66-59 victory in a first-round NIT contest.

Julius Brown topped the Rocket attack with a game-high 19 points followed by Justin Drummond (14 pts.), Rian Pearson (13 pts.) and Nathan Boothe (10 pts.). Michael Craig paced a balanced Southern Miss offense with 16 points and a game-high nine boards.

USM, which held a 46.0-41.8 advantage in the shooting department, controlled the boards with a 39-29 advantage on the glass.

Toledo trailed by a 34-19 margin at halftime but scored 11 straight points to open the second stanza to reduce its deficit to 34-30. UT eventually took its first lead, 41-40, with 12:55 remaining following Pearson’s seven straight points. A Boothe jumper increased the lead to 43-40, but the Eagles answered with four straight to regain a one-point advantage. Brown’s driving layup put the Rockets back in front and Jordan Lauf’s corner jumper made it a 47-44 contest with 8:25 left. USM then reeled off an 10-2 spurt to assume a 54-49 cushion it wouldn’t relinquish.

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