The Rockets took on MAC-West division leaders Central Michigan Jan. 23, in Savage Arena, pulling off a second-half rally to defeat the Chippewas 62-59. The close brought the Rockets to an overall record of 12-5, and a league record of 4-2.
Kaayla McIntyre led Toledo’s scoring efforts, finding the bottom of the basket on seven of 13 attempts for 16 total points. Nakiah Black and Mikaela Boyd joined McIntyre in the double digits for scoring, responsible for 15 and 13 points respectively.
In addition to scoring, Boyd brought a new-found energy to the court after halftime, crashing the boards with aggressive determination, and bringing in an astounding 10 rebounds in the second half alone. Boyd was responsible for 11 total rebounds, which, combined with her solid offensive performance, makes this her first double-double of the year.
The Chippewas started strongly, taking the immediate advantage and maintaining a lead throughout the first quarter. CMU consistently found ways to stop potential Rocket-scoring runs in the first quarter before finding any traction, while also making good on shot attempts, leading to a 29-17 Central Michigan lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter would provide the opening that the Rockets needed to propel themselves back into the game. As soon as the Central Michigan lead grew to 10, the largest lead of the game, the Rockets began a 10-0 scoring streak, kicked off by a three from Sara Rokkanen, and ending on a McIntyre layup, to tie the game with only two minutes left in the half.
The second half began with a quick 11-4 run from the Toledo side to establish a quick lead going into the second half. The remainder of the third quarter would largely be a shoot-out between the two sides, with neither gaining a substantial lead.
The Rockets entered the fourth quarter with a 52-48 lead that they would quickly grow to a five point difference. CMU responded several times, bringing the lead down to just a handful of points, yet despite ample opportunity, the Chippewas found themselves unable to score the points to bring the game into OT.
The Rockets also battled cross-division rival Akron while on the road on Saturday, falling just short of a victory in overtime. A late fourth quarter run would prove to be fatal for the Rockets as the Zips took advantage of the OT to launch themselves into first place.
Akron found themselves spending a substantial amount of time during the first quarter at the charity stripe, courtesy of a pair of fouls each from Boyd and Black. The Zips capitalized on this to establish an 18-16 lead heading into the second quarter.
Toledo came thundering back to start the second quarter, allowing only a single shot from its opponent to find the bottom of the basket during the entire period. The Rockets regained the lead in the second quarter, when they outscored their opponents 13-3.
The Zips chipped away at the Rocket lead during the third quarter, working it down to just a four point difference before the quarter came to a close.
Akron took the lead quickly in the final period, burying a pair of corner threes to make themselves the forerunner only about two minutes in. The Rockets spent the next four minutes bringing the game back their way, eventually finding themselves once again leading the Zips, this time with only three minutes remaining in the game.
Toledo failed to make the last three minutes count, missing on the last five shots and registering two turnovers. Reminiscent of start of the game, a pair of free throws from Akron would be what sent the game into OT.
The Rockets managed to get off the first score of OT, quickly grabbing a layup to start things off. The Zips responded with a pair of threes to make the score 63-57. Akron then made good on seven of eight opportunities from the charity stripe to win the game.
UT will next play rival Bowling Green in the annual Rocket for the Cure Game Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.