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.




Men’s season ends in DC

The Rocket men’s basketball team earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational March 15, where they fell in the first round 73-69 to George Washington University.

 

Second-year guard Jaelen Sanford led UT with 25 points and three assists. Fourth-year forward Steve Taylor Jr. was the only other Rocket to score in double figures, recording 18 points.

 

UT was without fourth-year guard Jonathan Williams for personal reasons. He was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year forward Taylor Adway.

 

Fifth-year George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Colonials to victory.

 

Toledo was efficient offensively, shooting 50 percent from the field, including 61 percent in the second half.  However, that was not enough to off set the nine three-pointers made by George Washington.

 

The Colonials led the entire game. Early in the half, Cavanaugh scored eight straight points to put George Washington ahead 10-5. UT went scoreless for about four minutes, but then Cavanaugh hit another three and GWU led by eleven with 8:44 remaining.

 

Toledo responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to 24-20. The teams traded buckets the rest of the half. Sanford hit a three with 33 seconds left, but UT gave up a layup with time expiring in the first half. GWU took a 35-29 lead into the locker room.

 

The back-and-forth play continued into the second half, and the lead was no larger than seven. A turnover by fourth-year forward Jordan Lauf led to a GWU three that increased the lead to 10 with 13 minutes left in the game.

 

UT quickly cut the lead to five, thanks to threes by Sanford and second-year forward Nate Navigato, but Cavanaugh answered right back with a triple of his own.

 

The Rockets stayed within striking distance, not allowing the margin to go above seven. UT was down five entering the final minute of play. Sanford drove to the lane to cut it to three.

 

Trailing 71-66, Navigato was fouled while shooting a three and hit all three free throws cut the deficit to two. Toledo forced a five-second violation to get the ball back with 15 seconds remaining.

 

Navigato drove the lane but couldn’t finish the layup through contact. Cavanaugh grabbed the rebound and was fouled, hitting both free throws to clinch the victory for the Colonials.

 

This was the final game in a Toledo uniform for Zach Garber, Jordan Lauf and Steve Taylor Jr.




Rocket baseball heats up in Illinois

The University of Toledo baseball team participated in the University of Illinois’ tournament this past weekend at Illinois Field in Champaign, IL. UT swept Southern Illinois University in two games: 8-7 on March 17 and 10-2 on March 18. The Rockets split a pair of games with the host of the tournament, the University of Illinois, losing 11-5 on March 17 and winning 10-4 on March 19. The Rocket record improves to 5-15 and the team has won four of their last five games.
Game One
The Rockets fell behind 2-0 against the Southern Illinois Salukis. Dalton Bollinger, a third-year infielder, hit a double to lead off and scored a run on an RBI double from third-year outfielder AJ Montoya.
The following inning, third-year fielder Matt Hansen and second-year infielder Riley Campbell each singled to reach base for the Rockets. Second-year outfielder Ross Adolph doubled next to the right field line to score Hansen. Montoya collected another double, allowing Campbell and Adolph to score to lead 4-2 after three innings.
The Salukis and Rockets each scored three runs in the fifth inning. Southern Illinois added another run in the following inning to cut Toledo’s lead to one, 7-6. In the bottom of the seventh inning, UT’s run came from a two-out solo home run to left field from fourth-year Josh Cales.
Toledo allowed one SIU run in the ninth inning and defeated the Salukis, 8-7. Fourth-year left-handed pitcher Steven Calhoun received his first win in the first decision of the season, and second-year left-handed pitcher Michael Jacob got the save.
Game Two
The first inning was quiet, but Illinois scored a run in both the second and third innings. A three-run third inning was what Toledo needed to take the lead, 3-2, and was the only time UT would lead.
Fourth-year catcher Corey Tipton was walked, first-year infielder Antonio Bennett singled and Hansen walked to load the bases. Campbell hit a three-run RBI triple to left-center field, scoring Tipton and Bennett, along with Hansen hustling from first base.
The Fighting Illini came back and fought. In the fourth inning, Illinois scored three runs in and six more runs were added by the seventh.
Toledo attempted comebacks in the fifth and ninth innings. Campbell hit an RBI single up the middle, allowing Hansen to score another Rocket run in the fifth. Tipton hit a sacrifice fly to score Cales, who was hit by a pitch. These were the last runs the Rockets would score.
Game Three
UT got the game started, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the third inning. Third-year infielder Brad Boss was hit by a pitch and scored on Hansen’s RBI double. Hansen advanced to third and scored a run after an SIU wild pitch.
SIU responded with a double that scored from two fielders’ choices, cutting Toledo’s lead, 2-1.
UT answered with a sixth inning run, increasing their lead, 3-1. Hansen was walked, Campbell bunted him to second and Bollinger hit a single down the left field line to score Hansen.
The eighth inning was when Toledo added seven runs to make it a 10-1 lead. First-year catcher Michael Ryan was walked, while Hansen and Campbell each singled to load the bases with no outs. Adolph was walked with bases loaded, which brought in another run, and Campbell scored on a wild pitch to extent the Rocket lead. Montoya was walked and the bases were loaded again.
Fourth-year pinch hitter Jacob Britt singled, scoring Bollinger. Bennett and Montoya both scored due to Boss’ being called safe on a throwing error. Boss and Britt added two runs when Ryan hit a two-run single.
Fifth-year left-handed pitcher Ross Achter received his second win of the season and leads the pitching lineup with two wins. Achter gave up a walk with a pair of hits while allowing two runs, one earned, all within six innings.
Game Four
The Rockets scored three runs in the second inning, beginning with Montoya’s single and first-year infielder Malave Bettinger’s walk. Ryan was walked and Bennett hit a three-run RBI double, making the score 3-0 in favor of UT.
Illinois responded with a run the following inning, but Toledo copied that in the fourth inning when Bettinger hit a one-out double and scored, 4-1, when Ryan plated him in.
The fifth inning was exciting for Montoya and the Rockets. Adolph and Bollinger both walked and scored with one out when Montoya hit his first home run of the season. Ryan went deep and scored Bettinger, who was hit by a pitch just a few at-bats earlier.
The Fighting Illini added their second run in the fifth inning, but the Rockets quickly added a run in the sixth inning from Bettinger’s RBI groundout. Two more Illini runs were plated in the seventh inning, and the team wouldn’t score any more.
UT’s fourth-year right-handed pitcher Sam Shutes (2-3) received his second consecutive win and pitched for six innings while allowing five hits and a pair of earned runs. Shutes also recorded his career-high-tying nine strikeouts. Fifth-year Caleb Schillace and fourth-year Jordan Kesson were the right-handed relief pitchers for the Rockets, who combined for pitching three innings, allowing three hits.
The midnight blue and gold will travel to South Bend, IN, for a matchup against Notre Dame March 22 with a 6:05 p.m. start time. The Rockets begin league play and the home season this coming weekend, March 24-26, against Northern Illinois University. First pitches are at 3:05 p.m. Friday, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.




Men lose in MAC semifinal

The University of Toledo men’s basketball team headed into the Mid-American tournament looking to redeem some regular season mistakes and send their senior class out with a memorable ending.
The Rockets were able to fend off the Bowling Green Falcons in the first round by a score of 77-62, but then fell to the Ohio Bobcats in the semi-finals by a score of 67-66.
The first matchup of the tournament was against Bowling Green State University, a team that UT had split wins with in two regular season matchups. When the Rockets saw BGSU in the regular season, they had a Rocket victory at home, 85-73, but their second meet-up in BG led to a 104-100 Falcon victory in double-overtime.
The team’s first tournament game was held in its home of Savage Arena, much to the benefit of the Rockets.
The Rockets were led by fourth-year guard Jonathan Williams with 18 points in the game, followed closely by redshirt first-year center Luke Knapke and second-year guard Jaelan Sanford, both recording 12 points.
The Rockets started off with an early 14-8 lead due to seven points from Knapke and a big three-pointer from fourth-year guard Jordan Lauf heading into the first media timeout. Bowling Green managed to claw back from the deficit, and the two teams headed into halftime with the Rockets leading 32-28.
Jordan Lauf and the Rockets opened up their second half lead early due to a corner three from Lauf, making the score 40-30 with 18:18 remaining in the half.
The Rockets held onto their lead, outscoring BGSU 43-34 in the second half to take the victory and head on to the semifinals.
“I thought it was a really good win for us; first half I thought we played really hard and did some good things defensively,” said Toledo basketball head coach Tod Kowalczyk in a post-game conference.
Fresh off their win, the Rockets headed to Cleveland to face off against the Ohio University Bobcats in the MAC tournament semifinals.
Despite an eight-point lead at halftime, the Rockets fell to the Bobcats 67-66 . Williams led Toledo again this game, putting up 18 points for the Rockets. Trailing behind him was Lauf, who recorded 12 points in the Toledo loss.
Toledo came out strong in the first half, connecting on 52 percent of shots (13-of-25) and six of 11 from three, while holding the Bobcats to only 36.4 percent shooting (12-of-33). Their shooting percentages gave Toledo a strong 37-29 lead heading into halftime.
The second half spelled a different story, as the Bobcats came roaring out of the half to score the first 12 points and take a 41-37 lead with 16:14 left. After some back-and-forth scoring from both teams, a Lauf layup cut the lead to 50-47 with just 9:46 left.
The game progressed back and forth for the next nine minutes, until second-year forward Nate Navigato nailed a huge three to tie the score 64-64 with 48 seconds left.
In the following possession, Williams snagged a great steal and transition layup to give Toledo a 66-64 lead. The Bobcats answered when Kaminski hit a massive three to give Ohio the lead and knock the Rockets out of the tournament.
“We battled back; we certainly had chances to win the game. I don’t regret one bit not calling timeout,” Kowalczyk said in a post-game interview
Looking forward, the Rockets will take on George Washington University in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational at 7 p.m. on March 15.




Women head to Oregon

As the excitement from the University of Toledo’s first women’s basketball MAC title since 2001 dwindles down, the Rockets begin to look forward to the NCAA tournament.
This will be the women Rockets’ eighth appearance in the NCAA tournament, with an overall record of 3-7 in the competition.
UT will head to Corvallis, Oregon this Saturday to take on the Creighton University Blue Jays in the first round of the tournament.
These two opponents have not faced off against each other this season but have had one common opponent throughout this season: Dayton.
When Creighton took on Dayton, the team won by a score of 56-53 on the road, and when Toledo took on the Flyers, the Rockets also won, by a score of 76-72.
The Blue Jays are a part of the Big East conference, going 23-7 (16-2) on the season. The Blue Jays were selected for the tournament as an at-large bid after losing to Big East champions Marquette in their conference tournament.
Despite this loss in the tournament, the Blue Jays finished their regular season tied for first in the Big East with the No. 21-ranked DePaul Blue Demons.
Although the two teams have not played each other this season, their records make it look to be a good matchup, one that could swing either way.
The Blue Jays are led by second-year forward Audrey Faber, who is averaging 13.2 points per game. Faber earned an All-BIG EAST first team selection, while Marissa Janning, fourth-year guard for the Blue Jays, is averaging 11.5 points per game and earned an All-BIG EAST second team selection.
Shutting down these two players will be key for the Rockets, so a strong defense will be necessary if the Rockets want to advance.
On the other side of the court, Toledo is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, and the team is looking to keep that streak alive.
Second-year guard Mikaela Boyd has been on a roll since the start of the MAC tournament, where she was named MVP of the tournament after the Rockets’ win over Northern Illinois in the finals.
Boyd will also be heading into this first-round matchup coming off of an incredible performance in the MAC final, where she recorded 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Another weapon for the Rockets will be first-year guard Mariella Santucci, who has found her footing again after a rough regular season due to a foot injury.
Santucci joined Boyd on the All-Tourney team after averaging 13.8 points in the MAC tournament.
This tournament draw was also good for the Rockets for other reasons. This draw lands them in a different region than the 32-0 University of Connecticut Huskies and outside of the Lexington bracket of death.
The Rockets will face off against the Blue Jays after the conclusion of the Oregon State vs. Long Beach State game on ESPN2 at 7:30.




Women’s Basketball takes home MAC championship

By Sam Williams

Sports Editor

 

The University of Toledo women’s basketball team took Cleveland by storm over the weekend. As the No. 6 seed, the women defeated No. 4 seed Northern Illinois University in an unexpected Mid-American Conference women’s basketball championship game.

 

This is the Rocket’s first MAC title since 2001. Both teams headed into the matchup with a great deal of momentum after upsetting higher-seeded teams in previous matchups, but Toledo was the team to come out on top and win 82-71.

 

The Rockets were led by a double-double from second-year guard Mikaela Boyd, who recorded 27 points and 14 rebounds in the Rocket victory. Weak shooting from the three-point arc in the first half held both teams back, with UT shooting just 2-10 and Northern Illinois only making two of its 14 attempts.

 

Toledo dominated the Huskies inside the key for the first half, with the Rockets scoring 18 points in the paint while Northern Illinois only had eight. Big back-to-back threes late in the second quarter sent the teams into halftime with the game tied.

 

The first half ended with the teams tied up at 30 points each. Boyd and second-year guard Olivia Cunningham paced the Rockets in the first half with eight points each. On the other side of the court, first-year Northern Illinois guard Janae Poisson led the Huskies with nine points.

 

The second half started rough for the Rockets with the Huskies gaining a quick five-point lead and third-year guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott recording her fourth foul only 4:44 into the second half, sending her to the bench.

 

Trouble with fouls continued for Rockets, with three players having at least three fouls before the end of the third quarter. These issues led to NIU scoring an extra seven points off foul shots in the third quarter alone, but a scrappy Rocket team kept the difference in score to only one point.

 

The fourth quarter saw both teams giving their all for a chance at the MAC championship title, and they traded scores back and forth quickly.

 

The foul issues that plagued the Rockets in the third quarter quickly transferred to the Huskies in the fourth, with the Rockets making nine of 12 free throws in the fourth.

 

The fourth quarter continued to be huge for UT, as the Rockets scored 15 points in five minutes. The Huskies could only record five.

 

The Rocket offense remained hot, with the team extending its lead to 12 points late in the fourth on the back of a huge quarter for Boyd, who had 15 points in the fourth quarter alone.

 

A dagger three by Poisson led to a Huskie timeout as they looked for solutions to the late game lead, but Toledo’s late game momentum could not be stopped.

 

As the game reached the 1:30 mark, the Huskies began to force the Rockets to the foul line in an attempt to save the game, but UT’s stellar free throw shooting kept the lead heavily in the Rockets’ favor.

 

UT secured the game with an impressive final quarter, shooting nine of 12 from the field and 16 of 19 from the free throw line in the fourth.

 

The Huskies were unable to formulate any resemblance of a late-game comeback, and the Rockets took home the victory, along with the MAC title, with a final score of 82-71.

 

This victory gives the Rockets a guaranteed spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament, and the team awaits the announcement of who its opponent wil




Rockets win versus CMU; lose Senior Night game

The Rocket men’s basketball team played their second-to-last game of the year at Savage Arena on Feb. 24. They took down Central Michigan 87-66 in a game UT controlled from the beginning.
Toledo was efficient on offensive shooting (55 percent) and recorded 23 assists to just 11 turnovers. They controlled the other end of the floor as well, holding CMU to 23 points under their season average and outrebounding them by fourteen.
Fourth-year guard Jordan Lauf led the rebounding effort, recording a career-high 14 rebounds to go with a career-best 16 points. Fellow fourth-year forward Steve Taylor Jr. filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
It was a showcase of fourth-year Rockets as guard Jonathan Williams paced the offense, scoring a team-high 22 points.
“We played exceptionally well on both sides of the floor,” said head coach Tod Kowalcyzk. “Our defense was really good to start the game and got into them a little bit.”
The nation’s leading scorer Marcus Keene (29.8 ppg) scored a game-high 27 points for the Chippewas.
Toledo led the entire game, thanks in part to a 12-2 run to start the game that was capped off with a Williams layup. Following a Chippewas basket, second-year guard Jaelen Sanford scored five in a row, including a block that led to a layup.
The Rockets lead never fell under double digits for the remainder of the game. About midway through the first half, Williams drove the lane for a layup that pushed the UT margin to 16.
“Just great team basketball; we moved the ball well,” Lauf said.
The lead remained steady for UT. The Chippewas were held scoreless for the final three minutes of the first half as Lauf and Taylor Jr. combined for eight points in that span. UT led 40-20 after one half of basketball.
“It was big for us to go into halftime like that,” Lauf said, “but we knew they were going to come back strong in the second half.”
CMU came out of the locker room looking to make a dent in the lead by getting to the free throw line and cutting the margin to 15. Sanford had another answer as he knocked down a triple to push the lead back up.
First-year forward Luke Knapke hit a three of his own with 17 minutes left to stretch the lead to 50-29.
“I think our bench is fine; they’ve been fine all year,” Kowalcyzk said.
But UT couldn’t keep Keene quiet for long: He scored eight quick points. Second-year Nate Navigato helped to capitalize, as he knocked down a triple to put the lead at 16 points with about five minutes remaining.
CMU tried but had no response for the tough defense and precise offense of the Rockets, who spent the rest of the game at the free throw line.
“We need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Kowalcyzk said. “Stay together and stay focused.”
Toledo headed into their last home game of the regular season against Ball State University looking to send the seniors out of Savage Arena with a win but were unable to find it in their 82-74 loss to the Cardinals.
Taylor Jr. and Williams led the Rockets on Senior Night, racking up 23 and 17 points, respectively.
The start of the game was massive for second-year Ball State guard Tayler Persons, who racked up 20 points in the first eight minutes, shooting six of six from the three-point line.
Williams fired back hard after the first media timeout, nailing two three-point shots on back-to-back possessions and putting the Rockets back within three points with a little under a half to go in the first.
Ball State eventually pulled away with the first-half lead and headed into halftime leading the Rockets 41-36.
The Cardinals destroyed the Rockets from around the arch, with Ball State hitting nine of their 18 three-point shots, while Toledo only made five of 14.
Down by five points, the Rockets knew they need to shut down the Cardinals’ three-point shot if they wanted to send the seniors home with a win.
Ball State started off the second half strong, extending their five-point lead to a 12-point lead before the 15-minute mark.
UT began to regain their footing on offense and, after a monster dunk from second-year forward Taylor Adway, the crowd was on their feet and the momentum was back on the Rockets’ side.
After a three-point play from Ball State, the Rockets were down by 12 with seven minutes left in the game and were looking for a huge comeback.
Three straight Rocket scores from Sanford, Lauf and Williams brought UT within six points of the lead and the crowd on their feet.
Despite the momentum, the Rockets were unable to knock down critical shots in the final minutes of the game, giving Ball State an easy path to victory.
The Rockets will head to Lansing to finish out their regular season against Eastern Michigan on March 3 at 7 p.m.




Rocket women sweep against EMU and WMU

This past week, the University of Toledo women’s basketball team defeated Eastern Michigan by a score of 65-57 on Wednesday and Western Michigan by a score of 75-67 on Saturday for their Senior Day. The wins improve the Rocket record to 19-8 overall and 10-6 in Mid-American Conference play.
“We’re excited to get the win tonight,” head coach Tricia Cullop said. “I thought we did a much better job of crashing the boards tonight. We knew we had a size advantage of not only rebound-ing but pounding the ball inside.”
Second-year center Kaayla McIntyre paced UT with 15 points, followed closely by second-year guard Mikaela Boyd with 14, along with fourth-year forward Janice Monakana and second-year Halee Printz, who both had 12.
As a team, Toledo shot 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the field and a sizzling 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line to sweep the regular season series against its MAC West Division rival.
The Rockets dominated in the paint and posted a decisive 42-24 edge in points in the paint and a sizable 43-34 rebounding advantage
The Rockets ended the first quarter with an 18-14 lead after the opening 10 minutes. Five different players tallied points over the final five-plus minutes to give the home team a two-possession advantage at the end of the quarter.
UT remained on target scoring the ball in the second period, tallying 13 of the first 15 points to extend its lead to 30-21 at the intermission. Printz sparked the run with seven points, draining a pair of free throws, a triple from the corner and a two-point field goal to create a nine-point cushion at the break.
After a huge EMU run, the Rockets needed to swing the momentum back in their favor. They pounded the ball inside and received three straight layups from third-year forward Michaela Rasmussen, Monakana and McIntyre to start a game-sealing 14-1 run to open a 49-31 advantage with 35 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The Rocket lead was not threatened over the last quarter and the team took the game 65-57.
Against WMU, Boyd led UT with 23 points, a career high, while also grabbing nine boards and three steals, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Monakana and McIntyre were also in double figures for Toledo with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
As a team, the Rockets shot a season-high 55.1 percent (27-of-49) from the floor, including an impressive 50.0 percent (5-of-10) from three-point range and 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the free throw line to secure their seventh straight victory over the Broncos (16-11, 7-9 MAC).
McIntyre helped Toledo get out to a good start, knocking down her first four shots from the field to give UT a 19-16 lead at the end of the first period. The second-year Rocket converted all of the field-goal attempts within five feet to make it a three-point difference at the conclusion of the opening 10 minutes.
The teams exchanged the lead on a couple occasions in the second quarter before WMU utilized a late 9-2 burst to take a 37-35 advantage into the intermission. WMU tallied all of their points in the paint during the late rally with five from third-year WMU guard Aneisha Carlisle to create a two-point margin at the break.
The teams battled back and forth over the next three-plus minutes before Toledo ended the period on a 12-3 run to build a 54-48 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. Printz triggered the pivotal rally with five points, while Bravo-Harriott hit a three-pointer and Boyd converted a layup to give the home team an advantage they would not surrender.
In the fourth period, Toledo benefited from a pair of three-point baskets by Monakana to make its advantage 66-58 with 4:52 remaining in regulation. Monakana made a pair of long-range shots from the wing to extend a three-possession lead just over the midway point in the final quarter.
“They brought so much to the program, so we just wanted to send them out on a good note,” Boyd said about the seniors. “They contribute so much to this team. Just to be able to send them out with a win here at home is amazing.”
The Rockets return to action on Wednesday, March 1 when they travel to MAC West Division rival Northern Illinois (19-8, 12-4 MAC). The opening tip versus the Huskies is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT) in the Convocation Center and will be televised on the American Sports Network and streamed on ESPN3.




Toledo softball struggles in South Carolina tournament

The University of Toledo softball team struggled this past weekend in the Buffalo Wild Wings Classic. The Rockets dropped two games on Feb. 24: 3-0 to Sacred Heart University and 1-0 to Furman University. Feb. 25 was a better day for the midnight blue and gold, defeating Western Carolina 4-2 and losing 4-1 to USC-Upstate. UT falls to a 3-11 record on the season.
Hits were not plentiful for the Rockets versus the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Fourth-year infielder Chandler Rice, third-year infielder Samantha Showalter and second-year infielder Megan Choate collected the three hits against the Pioneers.
The Pioneers scored two of their runs off of an RBI double that was hit into left field in the second inning. Their other run was brought in by another double in the following inning.
Second-year pitcher Heather Webb (1-2) threw six innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out six. Five base runners were left stranded during her pitching.
UT’s game against the Furman Paladins was a pitchers’ duel. Third-year outfielders Marriah Wise and Ashley Rausch collected the only two Rocket hits. Furman scored their only run in the third inning off a Toledo error.
Second-year pitcher Kailey Minarchick (1-3) completed her first complete game of the season. Minarchick allowed four hits, struck out four and walked one batter.
“Our pitchers did very well today,” said head coach Kristen Butler in a UTRockets interview. “Heather and Kailey performed very well and gave us great outings. We need to focus on executing when we have runners on base.”
Saturday morning started off slow for the Rockets when Western Carolina jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. First-year pitcher Alissa Noble came into game to replace Leah Allison, another first-year pitcher.
The midnight blue and gold was running on all cylinders from the third inning on. Chandler Rice, fourth-year second baseman, hit a two-run home run past left field in the third inning and brought in Wise, who reached base from a walk. Samantha Golden, first-year infielder, hit a double into left field and scored a run from Showalter’s single in the following inning. The Rockets scored their final run in the fifth inning, when Rice scored off of a bunt from fourth-year catcher Ashley Maynard.
First-year pitcher Alissa Noble (1-3) struck out three in six innings and secured her first win for UT. Minarchick got the save, making it her second of the season when she replaced Noble in the seventh inning.
“We did a great job getting game one today,” said Butler in a UTRockets interview. “Alissa and Kailey did a great job in the circle for us, and Chandler had a good day at the plate getting runs for us in both games.”
Upstate responded with a solo home run in the first inning and a two-run home run in the following inning. The Spartans continued scoring in the fifth with an RBI single.
Heather Webb was the starting pitcher (1-3); she allowed four runs on six Spartan hits.
Next weekend, the Rockets will travel through five time zones to play in the Malinini Kipa Aloha Tournament (March 3-5) in Honolulu, Hawaii, hosted by the University of Hawaii.
UT will face Charleston Southern University at 3:30 p.m. to begin the Malinini Kipa Aloha tournament on Friday, March 3. The Rockets have a doubleheader the following day beginning at noon against Seattle University and at 4 p.m. against Hawaii. Sunday, March 5, as of now, is considered bracket play and TBD.
A couple of days following the tournament, while UT is on Spring Break, the Rockets will take on Hawaii in a non-tournament doubleheader on Tuesday, March 7 at 5 and 7 p.m.




Rockets strike out in Florida

The Strike Out Cancer Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida was not very kind the University of Toledo Rockets softball team. The midnight blue and gold carry a 2-8 record as they continue their season.

On the opening day of the tournament, Feb. 17, the Rockets were defeated by Tulsa 4-5 and then by the host of the tournament, Florida Atlantic, 0-8.

On the second day, Feb. 18, the Rockets lost to Syracuse 0-5 and St. John’s 3-4. On Sunday, Feb. 19, the final day of the tournament, the Rockets surpassed Savannah State 14-4.

UT was close to winning the opening game against Tulsa when fourth-year second baseman Chandler Rice (3-for-4) hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning. Rice also hit a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the fifth inning, giving the Rockets a 4-3 lead.

“I think we showed a lot of resilience today,” said head coach Kristen Butler in a UTRockets interview. “Chandler was clutch all day by recording all of our RBI on her two home runs. That was a big showing of her senior leadership, and I’m expecting to see that from her all season.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough when Heather Webb, a second-year pitcher for the Rockets, gave up two runs on two errors in the seventh for a Hurricane victory.

“We just have to do a better job at closing out our games,” added Butler in the UTRockets interview. “Chandler came up big for us in the seventh, and we needed to be able to close out defensively. Heather threw a great game up until the last inning. We need to be able to put away the game when it matters.”

Against Florida Atlantic University, Samantha Golden, a first-year third baseman for the Rockets, and first-year first baseman Morgan Paaverud each went 2-for-3 at the plate, giving the Rockets four hits.

The FAU Owls scored a run in the opening inning off of a wild pitch and added a run in the second with a home run. FAU extended their lead in the fourth inning with two doubles, scoring four runs. A few at-bats later, the Owls tallied two more runs on an RBI double to deep center field.

Hitting early and often is what lifted the Syracuse Orange over the Rockets in their third game of the tournament. An RBI triple to left field in the first inning and two additional runs in the third inning gave Syracuse a comfortable lead early over UT.

Another run was scored off of a wild pitch in the fifth inning and an additional run in the seventh from an RBI single closed out the victory for the Syracuse Orange.

The Rockets scored early against St. John’s from fourth-year outfielder, Celeste Fidge, collecting an RBI.

UT added another in the second inning due to a pair of Red Storm errors.

The Red Storm fought back and tied the game from a sacrifice fly out to right field and a Rocket throwing error to home plate.

Back and forth the game continued with runs scored, but the Rockets were unable to close out the final inning due to a game-winning RBI single from the Red Storm.

“We fought hard today, and we hit the ball well,” said Butler in a UTRockets interview. “We need to do a better time of closing out games and coming through with clutch hits. Our pitching is improving, but we need to focus on the little things that will help us get the win.”

Sunday treated the Rockets kindly with a promising victory over Savannah State. Kailey Minarchick, a second-year pitcher, collected her first collegiate victory while throwing 4 innings.

Hitting for the Rockets was consistent. Rice went 3-for-4 with three doubles and multiple RBIs and scored runs. Third-year outfielder Ashley Rausch also went 3-for-4, scored three runs and collected a pair of RBIs. Megan Choate, a second-year shortstop, was another Rocket to go 3-for-4.

After the first inning, Toledo took a 2-0 lead. Second-year third baseman, Katie Cozy was part of the lineup to contribute to bring in runs along with Golden, fourth-year catcher Ashley Maynard, and Fidge.

Savannah State quickly hit a three-run triple in the second inning before the Rockets extended the lead two innings later. Golden hit her first career double to left-center field, allowing Rauch to score.

SSU did fight back to score another run, cutting Toledo’s lead 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth. This was the final run of the game for the Tigers.

The Rockets added a run to make their lead 7-4 in the fifth before scoring seven additional runs in the sixth and final inning. Rice hit her third RBI double of the game and third-year outfielder Marriah Wise hit her first triple as a Rocket to collect two RBIs for the final runs of the game.

Next weekend, UT softball will be on road to South Carolina for four games, taking part in the Buffalo Wild Wings Classic Tournament. On Friday, Feb. 24, the Rockets will play Sacred Heart at 11 a.m. and Furman at 1 p.m., with the games splayed in Greensville, SC. The following day in Spartanburg, SC, the Rockets will take on Western Carolina at 11 a.m. and USC-Upstate at 1 p.m.

 

 




UT Men blow huge lead in eighth overtime game of the season

 

Toledo headed into last night’s game against Western Michigan University looking to make up for their 90-74 loss to WMU earlier this season. Unfortunately, the Rockets gave up a massive 15-point lead, losing the game 56-61 in overtime.

“Well, obviously an extremely disappointing game,” said men’s head coach Tod Kowalczyk. “We’re up eight at halftime and not even playing all that well. I thought we would have guarded better, and offensively we weren’t very good”

Toledo managed to maintain an early lead for most of the first half, but a late 5-0 run by the Broncos brought the score back within six points late in the half.

The Rockets managed to stop the WMU run and even gained back much of their earlier lead before time ran out, giving UT a 31-23 lead heading into halftime.

How the teams played in the paint turned out to be extremely important for the first half of this game, with UT managing to outscore and outrebound the Broncos.

Toledo dominated the boards in the first half, outrebounding the Broncos 24-18. These rebounds helped the Rockets build their advantage with six second-chance shots.

These second-chance shots also helped UT control the ball inside the paint, where the Rockets outscored the Broncos 20-14.

Another impressive stat for the Rockets in the first half was that the team only gave up one turnover, while WMU gave up four.

The Rockets carried their first half momentum into the second half with ease, where a three-ball from Jaelan Sanford and a Steve Taylor Jr. layup extended the lead to 11 just three minutes into the half.

This lead continued to build to a 15-point advantage for the Rockets, and the game became increasingly out of reach for Western Michigan.

Western didn’t slow down and managed to bring the score within three points, 44-41, on the back of three straight scores from third-year WMU guard Thomas Wilder.

After a Toledo timeout, the Rockets turned off cruise control and managed to put a stop to Western Michigan’s dominating run, not allowing the Broncos to score on five straight possessions.

This defensive control did not last long when a putback and a Toledo turnover brought the game back to only a two-point lead for the Rockets.

Two free throws put the Rockets back up by two, but fouls started to catch up to the team. A foul by Sanford put Western into the bonus, where two easy free throws put the lead within one score for the Broncos.

A controversial call on a loose ball ended in the Rockets favor and led to an extremely heated Western Michigan bench, but, after a review, the ball stayed in Rocket possession.

With the game still within two points, a massive intentional foul call on John Williams gave the Broncos the free throws necessary to tie the game up with only 50 seconds left in regulation and the ball in Bronco possession.

After a botched WMU shot, the ball was back in Rocket possession with 30 seconds left and an electric Savage Arena.

The ball was knocked out of bounds with three seconds left, giving the Rockets one last chance to avoid overtime.

A bricked jump shot from Taylor Jr. put the Rockets into their eighth overtime of the season, tying an NCAA record.

A three-pointer solidified a lead for the Broncos as both teams traded layups, putting WMU up by three with 53 seconds left to go.

Coming out of a timeout, second-year forward Nate Navigato nailed a massive three-point shot to tie the game up again with 45 seconds left to go.

This shot was matched on the other side of the court with a WMU three-pointer, putting the Broncos up by three points again.

This shot put the ball back in Rocket possession with only one shot left to either send the game into double overtime or solidify massive Bronco comeback.

The ball swung around to Lauf, but the shot barely missed. Coming off the rebound, an offensive foul was called on Steve Taylor Jr., giving the Broncos the foul shots necessary to put the game out of reach for the Rockets, by a final score of 56-61.

“It’s very disappointing because we had a 15-point lead and we blew it,” commented Steve Taylor Jr. after the game. “We just have to get back in the lab and not get down because we still have a chance to do some great things.”

The UT men will look to bounce back from this loss this Friday when they face off against Central Michigan at 6:00 p.m. in Savage Arena.

 

 




Rockets split against Akron and CMU

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.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
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.