Senior forward Janice Monakana scored 15 points, including a key three-pointer late in the contest, to lead Toledo to a 67-63 victory over No. 3 seed Kent State in quarterfinal Mid-American Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament action Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Junior guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott added 14 points, and senior center Sophie Reecher chipped in with a season-high 11 points.The No. 6 seed Rockets (23-8) advance to the semifinals vs. No. 7 seed Buffalo (22-9) at approximately 1:30 p.m. Friday. The Bulls knocked off No. 2 seed Ball State earlier in the evening, 69-65.
Kent State (19-12) led by as many as eight points in the second half, but the Rockets outscored the Golden Flashes 17-7 in the decisive fourth quarter. Toledo shot a very solid 47.1 percent (24 of 51) from the floor, but its defensive effort may have been the key. The Rockets held KSU to just 40 percent shooting, while MAC Player of the Year Larissa Lurken shot just 8 of 25 from the field and 1 of 7 from behind the arc. Toledo also held a decisive 35-24 edge on the boards.
The Rockets led at the first-quarter break, 22-16, behind nine points from Bravo-Harriott. Toledo trailed early, 16-15, but went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter.
UT started out the second quarter with four quick points by sophomore forward Kayla McIntyre, the second bucket off a nifty pass from freshman guard Mariella Santucci that put Kent State down, 26-16, and forced Head Coach Todd Starkey to call timeout.
The Golden Flashes responded with a 9-0 run, finished off with a layup by Lurken that cut the lead to 26-25 with 7:03 left in the half. Moments later, KSU regained the lead, 32-30, on a pair of free throws by Lurken. Toledo finished off the half with a 9-3 run to take a 39-35 lead into the locker room.
Kent State came out charging in the second half, surging to a 48-43 lead on a 13-4 run to open the third quarter. A key play occurred at the 5:10 mark of the period when Sarah St. Fort was whistled for a technical foul following a KSU basketball. The Golden Flashes made one free throw and then converted a three-pointer by Megan Carter, accounting for six points on what amounted to a single possession.
The Golden Flashes extended the lead to 56-48 on a 17-foot jumper by Lurken with 1:31 left, causing UT Head Coach Tricia Cullop to call timeout. Bravo-Harriott responded with a layup to cut the lead to 56-50 at the end of three quarters.
Kent State’s lead increased to 59-52 on another three-pointer from Carter with 8:00 left to play. UT fought back and regained the lead with 9-0 run. An inside bucket by Reecher, back-to-back breakaway layups by Boyd and a three-pointer by Santucci gave the Rockets a 61-59 lead with 5:34 left. Toledo extended the lead to 66-61 on a three-pointer by Monakana as the shot clock expired with 2:00 left.
Lurken cut the lead to 66-63 on a layup with 1:19 left. Moments later, Toledo forced Lurken to miss a tough shot late in the shot clock, but Monakana was called for travellng after she corralled the rebound with 17 seconds left. Kent State had one last chance, but Carter’s three-point attempt in the waning seconds veered wide left, sealing the win for the Rockets. Bravo-Harriott made one free throw to account for the final 67-63 margin.