Sophomore guard Olivia Cunningham scored 13 points and freshman guard Mariella Santucci added 12 points and eight assists to lead a balanced Toledo attack in a 65-37 victory over Akron in first-round Mid-American Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament action at Savage Arena March 6.
Junior forward Jada Woody added a season-high 10 points, and junior guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott chipped in with nine as Toledo turned a close game into a rout with a second-quarter explosion that turned a one-point deficit into a 15-point halftime lead.Akron, which shot just 25 percent from the floor, held a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, then managed just 21 points the rest of the way. No player for Akron (8-21) scored more than six points.
The No. 6 seed Rockets (22-8) advance to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals vs. No. 3 seed Kent State (19-11) at approximately 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
The Rockets got out of the gate quickly, scoring the first seven points of the game and forcing an Akron timeout at the 7:29 mark. The Zips battled back, however, going on a 14-3 run that gave them a 16-15 edge at the first break.
The second quarter belonged to Toledo, as the Rockets outscored the Zips, 18-2, to take a 33-18 edge into the locker room at halftime. Bravo-Harriott highlighted a 16-0 Rocket run to close out the half with a three-point play at the 2:45 mark and a three-pointer with 36 seconds left.
Toledo continued the barrage in the third quarter. A three-pointer by senior forward Janice Monakana upped the lead to 40-22 early in the third quarter. Moments later, Monakana made a layup to push the lead to 48-24, forcing an Akron timeout with 5:11 left in the quarter. Akron cut the lead to 48-27 on a layup by senior Alex Ricketts with 2:02 left. Toledo then extended the lead to 52-27 on a layup by sophomore Mikaela Boyd at the buzzer to end the third quarter. For all practical purposes, the game was over at that point, as Akron never got closer than 25 points the rest of the way.
Head Coach Tricia Cullop was able to rest her starters in the fourth quarter, giving them a much-needed break for Wednesday’s game with Kent State. No starter played more than 26 minutes, and 12 players registered at least eight minutes.