Toledo led wire to wire and registered an impressive 67-52 victory over SEC member Auburn in the second round of the WNIT Saturday in Savage Arena.
With the 15-point home triumph, the Rockets improve to 25-8 on the season. UT will play the winner of tomorrow’s contest between Northwestern and Alabama. The third round of the postseason tourney is slated for Wednesday through Friday, March 23-25. Sites and times for that round will be released at a later date.Sophomore Yolanda Richardson tied her career high with 20 points to fuel the 2010-11 Mid-American Conference champions’ attack. Richardson added a squad-best eight boards and two rejections in her second start of the season. The Toledo native has scored in double digits in four of the last seven games.
Joining Richardson in double figures were senior Melissa Goodall and junior Naama Shafir with 12 points each, advancing the Rockets to the third round of the tourney for the first time in school history.
UT’s inside duo of Richardson and Goodall controlled the action on the interior and helped the home team post to a season-high 48 points in the paint.
Toledo shot a respectable 44.3 percent (27 of 61) from the field and 66.7 percent (10 of 15) from the charity stripe to extend its home win streak to 14 consecutive games and record its third all-time victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
The Rockets were clicking on all cylinders at the opening tip and received a pair of early field goals from Richardson and Goodall to take a 10-2 lead at 14:11.
The two-time reigning MAC West Division champs continued to push the action as the first half wore on, taking advantage of a triple by junior Courtney Ingersoll and a layup from Shafir to establish a double-digit cushion, 15-5, at 11:01.
Moments later, freshman Mariah Carson converted an offensive rebound to extend UT’s cushion to 19-8, resulting in an Auburn timeout with 9:12 remaining in the period.
The Midnight Blue and Gold kept its foot on the accelerator down the stretch and extended its margin to 26-12 with a mini 6-0 burst at 3:14. They capitalized on a trey from senior Jessica Williams and back-to-back layups by Goodall and Richardson to get the home crowd up on their feet.
Auburn quickly countered with a 6-0 run of its own to pull within eight points, but UT responded with another three-point field goal from Williams to take a 29-18 lead into the intermission. The Rockets have held their opponents under 20 points in a period on eight occasions this season.
Toledo was able to maintain its intensity to start the second half, opening with a 17-3 run to build a 43-21 lead at 14:34. Richardson spearheaded the run once again with eight points to assume a game-high 22-point bulge.
The Tigers tried mightily to claw their way back into the contest behind six straight points from Tyrese Tanner with just a little over eight minutes left in regulation, but the Rockets responded with a 12-4 burst to re-establish a 21-point lead, 63-42, at 3:27. The closest Auburn would get for the remainder of regulation was 13 points.
First-team All-SEC honoree Alli Smalley paced the visitors with 13 points.
The Tigers were limited to 31.1 percent (19 of 61) from the field, including a frigid 14.3 percent (3 of 21) from beyond the arc. They were guilty of 22 turnovers, which Toledo translated into 17 points. Auburn wraps up its season with a 16-16 ledger.