On Friday, the UT women’s basketball team defeated Wright State by a score of 64-50 and lost to Michigan State on Tuesday by a score of 66-64 in the NCAA Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
Against Wright State, fourth-year guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott scored 18 points and third-year center Kaayla McIntyre added 14 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Rocket offense.
“I know there are a lot of people around the region that probably thought our team didn’t deserve this,” said Tricia Cullop, head coach. “I used it as motivation because honestly, I felt like we did and I knew if we got the chance we would prove the fact that we deserved an opportunity.”
The Rockets shot 23-of-57 (40.4 percent) from the field and held Wright State (23-11) to just 18-of-68 (26.5 percent), including just 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) in the first half. Toledo also outrebounded the Raiders, 48-40.
Bravo-Harriott was hot in the first half, scoring 16 of her points to help Toledo build a lead of 18 -11 at the end of the first quarter. UT continued to have good offensive production as they took to 34-22. The Rockets outscored the Raiders, 17-10, in the third quarter to cruise to victory.
In the third quarter, UT outscored the Raiders 12-3. A notable play in the quarter was a three-pointer by second-year guard Sara Rokkanen to extend the Rockets’ lead to 46-25 with 4:31 left to play in the period.
Toledo’s lead grew to 51-32 going into the last quarter.
Wright State came out firing in the fourth quarter, going on a 10-3 run to shrink the deficit to 60-48 with 3:47 left to go in the game. UT calmed down after by sealing the game with a layup by second-year Mariella Santucci and a pair of free throws from Bravo-Harriott.
“I think everyone is into it and everyone knows that you can be one-and-done,” McIntyre said. “So, you have to play your hardest every night. You can’t really have any mess-ups. We just came out tonight and really focused on what coach taught us.”
Against MSU, McIntyre led the Rocket offense with 16 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and five assists, posting her ninth double-double of the season.
First-year forward Tanaya Beacham was also in double digits, scoring 12 points along with nine rebounds.
Bravo-Harriott and third-year Mikaela Boyd also finished in double figures for the Rockets with 10 points each.
As a team, the Rockets shot 56.0 percent (28-of-50) from the floor, including 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from beyond the arc, and 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from the free throw line.
UT played well off-the-glass against the Spartans, out-rebounding them 35-25.
In the first quarter, MSU scored the game’s first seven points, but UT closed the opening 10 minutes on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 19-15. McIntyre and Rokkanen were key contributors to the run, scoring 11 of UT’s 15 points in the quarter, including two each in the final two minutes to make it a two-possession difference.
In the second quarter, the Rockets outscored MSU 18-13 to take a 33-32 lead into the half. Five different Rockets scored in the quarter. UT’s 9-3 burst midway through the period was crucial to the lead change.
In the second half, the Rockets continued to play strong, extended their lead to a game-high six points two different times in the quarter and had a slim 48-45 advantage, heading into the final quarter. Boyd and McIntyre scored six points each in the period.
In the fourth quarter, the teams went back and forth, trading the lead eight different times. The Rockets were in a 66-62 hole with only 18 seconds left, but they answered with back-to-back baskets from Boyd and Beacham only to lose off the Spartans’ last-second layup for the game winner.