Women’s basketball falls short in NCAA tournament
Coming off an impressive MAC tournament run, the University of Toledo women’s basketball team headed into their first NCAA tournament in 16 years and looked to advance to the second round. Unfortunately, the Rocket momentum from their conference tournament didn’t transfer to their game against the Creighton University Blue Jays, and the Rockets lost by a score of 49-76.
Second-year guard Mikaela Boyd led UT with 11 points in the game, followed closely behind by first-year guard Mariella Santucci and second-year center Kaayla McIntyre, both of whom had 10.
Scoring was a huge handicap for the Rockets in this matchup. Throughout the season, fourth-year forward Janice Monakana, third-year guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott and Santucci combined to average 31.7 points per game. But, in the NCAA tournament matchup, the trio combined for only 19 points.
The Blue Jays were firing on all cylinders from the start of the game, especially for fourth-year Creighton guard Marissa Janning, who scored 15 points for the Blue Jays within the first six minutes of the game. This monster start to the game from Creighton eventually led to a 27-12 lead for the Blue Jays at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter didn’t fare much better for the Toledo women, either, as the Creighton Blue Jays went on a late 9-0 run to give them a 24-point advantage over the Rockets.
Santucci charged down the court to grab a bucket before the end of the quarter, sending the teams into halftime with the score at 44-22.
Creighton dominated UT in the first half with the Blue Jays shooting 15-29 from the field, including 7-14 from the three-point range. Comparatively, the Rockets shot just 11-34 and didn’t hit a single three-point shot out of their seven attempts.
Toledo came out of half-time with some life that was not seen in the first half. The quarter opened with six straight UT points, all coming from McIntyre, forcing Creighton to take a timeout.
Unfortunately, this energy did not continue for the Rockets, as the Blue Jays came out of the timeout and outscored UT 7-2, giving the Rockets’ Big East opponents an even larger 53-32 lead.
After a third quarter media timeout, Creighton put the pressure on Toledo again, outscoring them 8-3 and giving the Blue Jays a 63-35 lead at the end of the third quarter. The start of the fourth quarter didn’t differ much from the previous three, as the closest the Rockets got to the lead was 24 points.
The game ended with a score of 76-49, sending Toledo home from their first NCAA berth since 2001 with a loss.
“This team has fought so hard all season long and been in every game,” said UT head coach Tricia Cullop in a postgame interview, “and today was just a tough pill to swallow because of how hard we fought all season long.”
This game marks the end of the 2016-2017 Rocket season, giving them a final record of 25-9 and a MAC championship as they look ahead to next year.