Top seed Toledo (27-2) will begin its journey to claim the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament crown against No. 4 seed Central Michigan (19-11) Friday, March 15, in the semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
This season marks the second time in the last three years and eighth time in school history that the Rockets are the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney.
Toledo enters the postseason event in the midst of a 15-game win streak, tied for the second-longest unbeaten stretch in school history, to claim its second MAC regular-season crown in the last three years and fourth-consecutive MAC West Division title.
UT, which advanced to today’s semifinals with a double bye, will look to continue its momentum from an impressive 63-39 victory against No. 2 seed Ball State March 6 in its regular-season finale. With the win over the Cardinals in Savage Arena, Toledo wrapped up league play with a 15-1 record, marking the third time in school history it posted a .938 conference win percentage (2000-01, 1991-92).
Seniors Naama Shafir and Yolanda Richardson led the 2012-13 MAC regular-season champions with 14 points each to snap BSU’s four-game win streak. Richardson added a career-high 16 rebounds to post her second double-double of the season, earning MAC West Division Player of the Week accolades for a second time in 2012-13.
For the season, the Rockets are fueled offensively by the quartet of Shafir, Andola Dortch, Richardson and Inma Zanoguera, who are averaging 12.6, 11.3, 9.4 and 9.2 points per game, respectively. This group accounts for 63.9 percent of the team’s scoring.
The Chippewas, who advanced to the semifinals with an 81-48 victory over Bowling Green Thursday, feature a high-powered offense with three players averaging double figures. First-team All-MAC selection Crystal Bradford’s 15.4 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game and 2.1 steals per game leads this group.
Toledo and Central Michigan will square off for the third time this season and the 71st time overall. The Midnight Blue and Gold dropped a 73-66 decision at home in the first meeting this season (Jan. 10), before responding with a 76-63 victory on the road (Feb. 24).
The Rockets lead the series, 43-27, including a 6-3 edge in games played in the MAC Tournament. The division rivals last squared off in the postseason during the 1998-99 season, with UT claiming an 88-78 home victory in the quarterfinals.
Should the Rockets make it to the finals, they would face the winner of No. 2 seed Ball State (15-14) and No. 3 seed Akron (22-8) Saturday at 1 p.m.