No. 25 Toledo closed out its regular season in fine fashion with a resounding 63-39 victory over Ball State on ??Senior Night?? on Wednesday before 4,542 fans in Savage Arena.
With the dominating win, the nationally ranked Rockets push their win streak to 15 consecutive games and improve to 27-2 overall, 15-1 in the league. UT??s 15-1 MAC ledger marks the third time in school history it has posted a .938 league win percentage (2000-01, 1991-92)
Senior Naama Shafir and senior Yolanda Richardson led the 2012-13 MAC regular-season champions with 14 points each to snap BSU??s four-game win streak. Richardson added a career high 16 rebounds to post her second double-double of the season.
UT also received nine points from sophomore Inma Zanoguera and eight points each from senior Kyle Baumgartner and junior Andola Dortch to sweep the regular-season series from the Cardinals (15-14, 12-4 MAC) for a fourth-straight year.
The four-time reigning MAC West Division champion Rockets raced out to a 10-0 lead at the 17:51 mark, forcing Ball State into an early timeout. The home team hit four of their first five shots from the floor to build an early double-digit cushion, including a pair of triples from Baumgartner and Shafir.
The Cardinals benefitted from the stoppage of play and scored the next 10 points to draw the teams?? even at 10-10 with 13:34 remaining in the first stanza. Five different BSU players scored in the burst, prompting UT to call a timeout.
Toledo did not help its own cause during this stretch, as the home team went five minutes with scoring. The Rockets finally ended the drought when Shafir knocked her second triple of the contest with just under 12 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Shafir three-point field goal lit a fire under the Rockets and sparked a game-changing 26-4 burst to end the period, giving the home team a 36-14 lead at the intermission. Zanoguera did a bulk of the damage in the run contributing seven points, including a trey as the first half clock expired, while Richardson tallied six points and Dortch and Baumgartner had five points each.
Toledo did not relax to start the second half despite holding a sizable advantage, but rather kept its foot on the accelerator and grew its lead to as many as 31 points, before settling for the impressive 24-point home victory.
BSU was paced by All-MAC candidate Nathalie Fontaine with 18 points and Shelbie Justice added nine points in the losing effort. The Cardinals were guilty of 19 turnovers, which Toledo translated into 17 points.
The Rockets?? defense smothered the BSU shooters, holding their division rival to 27.1 percent (13-of-48) from the field for their lowest scoring output of the season. Tonight??s dominating defensive performance by UT signified the 19th time it has held an opponent to 42 points or less under fifth-year head coach Tricia Cullop, including nine occasions in 2012-13.
UT will now take the No. 1 seed into the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, OH, which starts at campus sites on Saturday, March 9. The Rockets have earned a bye through the first three rounds of the tourney and will advance to the ??Final Four?? on Friday, March 15 at Noon in Quicken Loans Arena.
Courtesty: Toledo Athletics