BRIDGEPORT - Toronto's players are aggressive with the basketball. They waste little time in angling toward the basket and looking to make a play.
It's that aggressive playstyle that broke the Red Knights out of an early funk, eventually building a 17-point lead early in the fourth against Bridgeport. And it's that same playstyle that nearly cost Toronto the lead and the game.
A frenzied push led by Q.J. Williams cut the Toronto lead to five but the Knights were able to hang on, improving to 4-1 with a 66-56 win against the homstanding Bulldogs (2-3).
BLOCKED — Toronto’s Dillon Gault blocks a shot during Friday’s 66-56 win over host Bridgeport. Looking on is teammate Joey Chadwick.
"We had to battle a little against (the aggressive play) late in the game," Toronto coach John Leary said. "You don't want to totally pull back, but at the same time, you want them taking good shots.
"It's not a situation we've been in a lot the last few years, playing up with a lead late, and they have to learn how to operate in that type of situation."
It wasn't pretty, but free throws from Blaze Glenn and Brad Melville down the stretch iced the game for the Knights. In terms of wins and losses, for one night, Toronto managed to play well enough with a lead to secure the 'w.'
Toronto 66, Bridgeport 56
Toronto 10 22 16 18 - 66
Bridgeport 10 9 14 23 - 56
TORONTO: Chadwick 2 0-1 4; Glenn 5 6-9 17; Melville 9 2-5 20; Owens 4 1-4 10; Gault 6 1-1 13; Lawrence 1 0-0 2; Stewart 0 0-0 0; Totals: 27-50 10-20 66. 3-pointers: Owens, Glenn.
BRIDGEPORT: Roth 0 0-0 0; Fields 6 1-2 13; Kreiter 3 1-1 7; Williams 8 2-9 18; Dyson 4 0-2 8; Teeman 2 0-0 4; McGrath 3 0-1 8; Seevers 0 0-0 0; Cash 0 0-0 0; Totals: 26-59 4-15 56. 3-pointers: McGrath 2.
Bridgeport coach Donnie Cash, meanwhile, is waiting for his club to put together four quarters of basketball.
Again, the Bulldogs played well in spurts - first in taking a 10-3 lead, only to watch Toronto battle back to knot the score at 10-10 after one.
Then later, between the third and fourth quarters, as Williams' team-high 18 points fueled the comback that whittled the deficit from 17 to five points.
But the home team just couldn't quite string together enough plays to keep or retake the lead.
"Until this team can play four quarters of basketball ... we can't play only in spurts," Cash said. "We need to bring our intensity for four quarters.
"We're learning how to win. And when it's something you're not used to doing, you have to take every game and play it likes it's a playoff game."
Melville led Toronto with a game-high 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Early on, it was Dillon Gault who got Toronto out of its funk, scoring seven of his 13 in the second quarter. Glenn added 17 points and Tyler dropped in 10 for a balanced scoring effort.
"We started sluggish and that's why I preach to the kids the important on consistency on defense," Leary said. "Your shot could be off but the defense can still be there, making plays, until you find your shot and we were able to do that tonight."
Toronto was able to force 21 Bulldogs' turnovers.
Dallas fields added 13 points for the Bulldogs, who play host to River on Tuesday. Toronto, meanwhile, heads to McMechen for a meeting with Bishop Donahue on Tuesday.