Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
TOLEDO, Ohio - It's not always how much, but when.
DaRohn Scott's final stat line was anything but impressive, but his contribution down the stretch loomed large Saturday as Central Michigan gutted out a 76-74 Mid-American Conference men's basketball victory over Toledo at the Rockets' Savage Arena.
The win lifted CMU to 16-13, 9-7 MAC and it kept the Chippewas one game behind Ball State in the MAC West. It was CMU's fifth straight win over Toledo, 17-12, 8-8.
Scott, a 6-foot-9 junior, finished with four points, three rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes.
His first bucket, a dunk with under four minutes to play, put CMU ahead for good. He then he made two huge blocks and scored on a putback in the final 1 minute, 4 seconds.
The Chippewas play at Ball State on Tuesday, then close the regular season at home next Friday against Western Michigan.
"Both teams played extremely hard and you kind of knew from the opening tip this game was going to go down to the wire," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "Credit our guys. We didn't make all the right plays down the stretch, but we made enough and our guys will enjoy this one as we get ready for another tough one at Ball State."
Chris Fowler scored 20 points, John Simons had 19, Luke Meyer added 12, and Braylon Rayson had 10 to lead the Chippewas, who took the lead for good, 69-67, on Scott's dunk with 3 minutes, 38 seconds remaining.
MAC Player of the Year candidate Nathan Boothe hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining to draw Toledo to 73-72. Scott rebounded a CMU miss on its next possession and scored on the putback with 21 seconds left to make it 75-72.
Jonathan Williams hit two free throws with 7 seconds left to pull the Rockets to 75-74, and CMU's Rayshawn Simmons (seven assists) made a charity toss with five seconds remaining for the final margin. Toledo missed a final desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Fowler picked up his fourth foul with 12:48 to play and went to the bench. He returned with 9:15 remaining and the Chippewas down one, 57-56.
It was a calculated risk, Davis said, bringing Fowler back into the game with four fouls. It paid off.
"I don't want to lose a game by having my best player sitting on the bench," Davis said. "I just felt like we needed his leadership, his ability to get to the basket, his ability to make big plays in there. It was a risk, but definitely a risk worth taking."
Boothe, a 6-foot-9 senior, finished with 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Rockets, who made six of their 12 3-point attempts in the second half. The MAC's leading scorer, Boothe also scored 23 points in the Chippewas' 77-69 win over the Rockets 11 days ago in Mount Pleasant.
"We held him to 23," Davis said. "I think we said that after the first win against them. And that sounds funny to say. He's a guy who can put 30-plus on you in a hurry so to not let him single-handedly beat you was a big key tonight."
The play of Scott and the 6-11 Meyer - both sophomores - was crucial, Davis said.
"You talk about Luke and DaRohn and you put those 40 minutes together and you're talking about 16 (points) and nine (rebounds)," he said. "That's pretty nice numbers from your sophomore bigs.
"I don't think anybody saw them when they first came in (to CMU) and thought, Hey they're ready to go, they're going to be at that level on day one. They're guys who have tremendous upside, guys who have worked extremely hard and it's nice to be able, as of late, for them to have some really great games as sophomores."
Simons finished 4-of-7 from 3-point range and his 19 points was his second-highest total of the season after the 22 he posted at Grand Canyon on Dec. 3, a stretch of 22 games
He grabbed a team-high nine rebounds as the Chippewas finished with a 34-33 edge on the glass. It marked the first time in 10 games that CMU has outrebounded an opponent.