Last week, the University of Toledo women’s basketball team won against Ball State University by a score of 72-66 on Tuesday and lost to the University at Buffalo 87-69 at Saturday. The results put the Rockets’ record at 13-6 overall and 4-3 in Mid-American Conference play.
“We had to get stops,” UT head coach Tricia Cullop said. “Last game we had to finish it with defensive stops to beat Northern Illinois. That’s the nice thing about this team is that we can get those stops when we need to... I think we have the ability to win the game on either end.”
Third-year center Kaayla McIntyre led the Rockets on offense with 15 points, followed by second-year guards Mariella Santucci and Sara Rokkanen with 12. Third-year guard Mikaela Boyd had 11.
Boyd had 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals on the way to her fifth double-double over the last six games.
“We just had to make sure we made them take tough shots and also box out,” McIntyre said. “We know some of their players are really good at offensive rebounds, so we had to make sure we boxed out and contested their shots.”
The Rockets had a 40-36 rebounding advantage over the Cardinals. With the win, Toledo extended its home winning streak to 15 consecutive games.
UT shot 47.5 percent (28-of-59) from the field, including 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from beyond the arc and 55.0 percent (11-of-20) from the free throw line.
Toledo moved the ball well by having 24 assists and limiting its turnovers to 12. On top of Boyd’s six assists, Rokkanen also registered a career-best six connections. UT has now totaled at least 20 helpers on six occasions this year.
UT started out fast, shooting 50.0 percent (8-of-16) from the field after the opening 10 minutes and held an 18-16 advantage. Six different Rockets scored points in the quarter.
Santucci played well in the second quarter, tallying seven points to give UT a 37-28 lead at the break. She knocked down three shots in the quarter, including a three-pointer from the corner, to increase UT’s lead to nine at the intermission.
In the third quarter, the duo of McIntyre and Rokkanen scored 18 of Toledo's 20 points to increase the Rocket lead to 57-48 heading into the fourth quarter. McIntyre was a force in the paint and totaled 10 points, while Rokkanen tallied eight points.
The Cardinals surged in the fourth period and closed within a single point, 65-64, at the 3:07 mark, but the Rockets responded with a huge triple by Rokkanen and four free throws down the stretch to close out the impressive home triumph.
“I’m exceptionally proud of our team today for the effort,” Cullop said. “We beat a very good team. Ball State has had a great season thus far and posed a lot of issues that we had to address today in order to beat them. I thought we did a great job on the boards, I thought we took care of the basketball, and I thought our bench came through.”
Against Buffalo, McIntyre led UT with 19 points, followed by Boyd and Rokkanen with 13 each. As a team, the Rockets shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the floor, including 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from three-point range, and 70.6 percent (12-of-17) from the free throw line.
Toledo gave up 25 turnovers. The Bulls capitalized ton the Rockets’ mistakes, converting them into 22 points to end UT’s run of three straight wins.
The Bulls did not trail in the game, coming out fast to an early 14-6 lead at the 4:56 mark. UT responded following a timeout and tallied eight of the final 12 points in the opening quarter to make the score 18-14.
Buffalo pushed the lead to double figures, 31-20, midway through the second quarter off of back-to-back three-pointers.
Toledo fought back again, though, scoring the next seven points to trim the deficit to four points, 31-27, with 3:58 left in the opening half. Rokkanen accounted for the first five points in the rally on a deep three-pointer and a layup, while McIntyre scored a layup of her own on the run.
Buffalo ended the first half on a 9-0 run to put the lead at 40-27 at the half.
In the third period, Toledo once again shrank the lead to four points, 51-47, at the 3:29 mark on the back of six points from first-year Tanaya Beacham.
Buffalo charged back out to a 12-3 burst over the course of the third and fourth quarters to reestablish a double-digit lead.
UT will return to the hardwood Wednesday, Jan. 24 when it hosts defending MAC East Division champion Kent State. Tip-off versus the Golden Flashes is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Savage Arena and will be streamed live on ESPN3.