Toledo dismantles SIU-Edwardsville 59-43 in Glass City Tournament
Naama Shafir scored 12 points in the first 16 minutes Saturday and appeared to be on her way to a career performance until rolling her ankle late in the first half.
The senior guard did not return – she is expected to play tomorrow – but the Rockets hardly needed her in a 59-43 dusting of SIU-Edwardsville in the first round of the Glass City Tournament.
Toledo jumped out to an early lead with the help of Shafir, who scored seven of UT’s first nine points and nine of the first 18.
She led all scorers despite the injury, which head coach Tricia Cullop said she could have played with if necessary.
“She could have played at any minute, but we’ve got a game tomorrow and I wanted her to rest so that she’d be ready to go,” she said.
Shafir received treatment after the game and should be 100 percent for tomorrow’s game against St. Bonaventure, who knocked off Southern 56-36 earlier in the day.
“I was sitting around the bench and giving her a hard time,” said senior guard Riley McCormick. “I was like ‘Naama, you crying?’ She’s OK, she’ll be fine.”
Shafir wasn’t the only Rocket who was red-hot in the first half. They made 10 of their first 14 shots and four of their first five from range.
A Cougars turnover led to a breakaway layup for junior Janelle Reed-Lewis that eventually fell after hanging on the rim for a few seconds to put UT in front 16-5 less than six minutes into the game.
Reed-Lewis was 3-for-3 from the floor in the first half and finished the game with eight points.
“I was really proud of the start that we had,” Cullop said. “It was great to see our starting five and even our next group come off the bench and really extend the lead. [Our seniors] are very driven to get us off to a good start.”
SIU-Edwardsville committed 17 first half turnovers leading to 21 points for the Rockets.
The Cougars went more than six minutes without a point and senior forward Kiara Conner’s layup at the 4:57 mark was their first goal in more than 12 minutes.
SIU-E made just five of their 19 first half shots.
“To jump out to that lead, the majority of what was going right was our defense,” Cullop said. “And It creates easy opportunities for scores on the other end.
UT took a commanding 41-16 lead into the locker room behind 49 percent shooting (17-of-35) and seven three-pointers, three from McCormick whose three-point percentage is twice what it was a season ago.
“She’s a lethal three-point threat,” Cullop said. “It’s so good to see someone that has worked so hard, that’s maintained such a good attitude [perform well]. Every day, she comes in and gives us everything she has.
“She’s a great leader and we’ve all been wanting her to have the success that she’s enjoying this year. We’re behind her 100 percent because she’s put the time in. She’s spent more time in this gym than most people.”
The Rockets offense slowed down in the second half, but not enough for the Cougars to make much of a run.
After burning the nets in the first half, UT saw their shooting percentage fall to just 25 percent (6-of-24) in the second.
“Where we’ve got to get better is how to attack the zone [defense] a little bit better,” Cullop said. “I didn’t think we executed the way that we could have and that’s why it kind of stifled us in the second half.”
The Rockets shot 39 percent for the game and limited the Cougars to an ice-cold 30 percent and forced them into 26 turnovers.
Senior guard Andola Dortch scored nine points and dished out a game-high six assists.
UT will take on St. Bonaventure in the title game tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at Savage Arena.
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