Rockets split against Akron and CMU

Jackson Rogers, Associate Sports Editor

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The University of Toledo women’s basketball team defeated University of Akron by a score of 61-57 on Feb. 15 and lost to Central Michigan University 72-61 on Feb. 18. With the results, the women’s record is now 17-8 overall and 8-6 in Mid-American Conference play.
“We just didn’t hang our heads,” head coach Tricia Cullop said. “We kept fighting, stayed focused on what we could control and we were able to break through and get the victory.”

Second-year center Kaayla McIntyre led UT with a career-high 20 points, with third-year guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott following close behind, scoring 19 points.

After a back-and-forth opening period, the Zips broke the game open with a 15-4 run to create a 24-17 lead at the 3:51 mark. Five different UA players scored in the quarter-opening burst to force UT to burn two timeouts in a span of two-plus minutes.

The Rockets were held without a field goal over the final 4:44 in the first half. As a result, they were limited to a season-low six points in the quarter and found themselves down 24-19 at the half.

UT began its comeback with a quick 8-3 rally early in the third period to cut the deficit to 35-31 at the 4:33 mark. They did all of their damage down low, receiving two baskets from McIntyre and one each from Bravo-Harriott and fourth-year forward Janice Monakana to make it a two-possession difference and set the stage for an action-packed final quarter-and-a-half.

The Rockets trailed 40-32 with 2:45 left in the third quarter before going on a 9-2 run to close the margin to a single point with 9:48 remaining in regulation. Bravo-Harriott scored the first four points in the rally, McIntyre accounted for the next four and second-year guard Mikaela Boyd finished it off with two to pull the visitors within 42-41.
The teams then traded baskets over the ensuing three-plus minutes, before UT rattled off five-straight points to make its advantage 58-54 with 2:16 left in the final period. Monakana registered the initial two points with a pair of free throws, while Bravo-Harriott was credited with a traditional three-point play.
Monakana successfully converted an offensive putback with only 13.9 seconds remaining to make the score 60-57.

Following an Akron timeout, the home team was guilty of a turnover and forced to immediately foul point-guard Mariella Santucci with a mere 11.1 seconds showing on the clock.

For the game, Toledo shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the field and a respectable 76.5 percent (13-of-17) from the free throw line. The Rockets scored 40 of their 61 points in the paint and finished with a sizable 44-34 edge in rebounding.

“We just got to keep focusing. It was a big win for us, and I’m just looking forward to keeping the team moving forward,” McIntyre said.
In the following game against CMU, Boyd paced UT with 15 points, followed closely by Monakana, Bravo-Harriott and McIntyre with 14, 13 and 11, respectively.

“I’m really proud of how hard we fought,” Cullop said. “I think the unfortunate thing is that the offensive rebounds were hard to watch and we had some penetration fouls.”

As a team, Toledo shot 36.5 percent (23-of-63) from the field and a season-high 87.5 percent (14-of-16) from the free throw line.
The Chippewas started strong and hit six of their first 10 shots from the floor, jumping out to a 13-9 lead to force UT to call an early timeout. The home team benefited from back-to-back field goals from both Reyna Frost and Cotton to prompt the Rockets to stop play with 4:56 left in the opening period.

CMU continued to shoot the ball well from the field and held a 22-17 advantage after 10 minutes of action. The Rockets tightened up their defense in the second stanza and forced CMU to miss its first 11 shots and 17 of 19 overall from the floor in the period. UT took advantage of Central Michigan’s scoring drought and cut its deficit to three points, 29-26, at the intermission.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, they were not able to further trim the deficit as they limited CMU to 10.5 percent (2-of-19) shooting in the quarter. The midnight blue and gold were only able to produce nine points themselves to make it a one-possession difference at the break.

Toledo did receive a team-high eight points from Monakana and seven from McIntyre in the opening 20 minutes to keep them within striking distance.

UT started the third quarter strong, benefiting from a mini 6-0 run to claim its first lead, 34-33, at the 5:23 mark. Boyd started and ended the burst with four points, while Bravo-Harriott accounted for the other two in a span of just over one minute.

The teams then traded the lead on four occasions for the remainder of the period, and the Rockets took a 47-45 advantage into the final 10 minutes. Toledo outscored CMU 21-16 in the quarter and did the majority of its damage at the free throw line, knocking down 9-of-10 at the line.

Central Michigan then broke the game open with a pivotal 11-2 run early in the fourth stanza to build a 58-51 advantage with 5:23 left in regulation. Following the stoppage, the Rockets retaliated with a pair of baskets to pull within three points, 62-59, but CMU put the game away with a traditional three-point play.

Despite the loss, Toledo did a good job taking care of the basketball and finished with 11 assists and a season-tying low 10 turnovers.

The Rockets will return to the court on Wednesday, Feb. 22 when they host MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan. The opening tip versus the Eagles is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Savage Arena and will be streamed on ESPN3.

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Rockets split against Akron and CMU