Rockets win WNIT Championship

April 2, 2011 | News, UToday
By Vicki L. Kroll

Naama Shafir scored 40 points to lead the Rockets to the WNIT Championship.

Naama Shafir scored 40 points to lead the Rockets to the WNIT Championship.

The Toledo Rockets put an exclamation mark on their historic post-season run, defeating USC, 76-68, to win the WNIT Championship in front of a sold-out crowd in Savage Arena.

Naama Shafir led the Rockets, scoring 40 points.

The game saw several lead changes. Southern California was up by seven points early in the first half, but the Rockets battled back and finished the first 20 minutes with a 35-32 lead.

It was all Shafir and the regular-season Mid-American Conference Champions in the second half. The junior hit shots in the lane, from the perimeter, and at the free-throw line to keep Toledo in front of USC.

The crowd erupted when senior Melissa Goodall hit a three-point shot to put the Rockets up by 14, their biggest lead of the game, 67-53, with about three minutes left to play.

But USC would not go away. Southern Cal cut Toledo’s lead to four points, 70-66, with 36 seconds left in the contest.

Shafir put the Rockets up by six points and then eight points, sinking four free-throws to make it 76-68, with 4 seconds left.

It was a new career high for Shafir, who scored 40 points. She was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

Toledo becomes the first MAC team to win a post-season national tournament championship.

“This is just the most amazing thing that I’ve ever been a part of,” Coach Tricia Cullop told the crowd after the game. “Words cannot describe what I’m feeling and what I hope you’re feeling. You’re our sixth man; you’re amazing.

“It’s almost like you guys and your big hearts willed us to win. Thanks for coming out and being part of something special.”

A total of 7,301 fans packed Savage Arena to set new UT and MAC attendance records for a women’s basketball game.

Goodall played 38 minutes and scored 12 points. Haylie Linn added 10 points, Andola Dortch contributed five points, Yolanda Richardson chipped in four points, senior Jessica Williams had three points, and Courtney Ingersoll had two points.

Toledo extends its home winning streak to 18 games. The Rockets finish their landmark season 29-8 and 14-2 in the MAC.

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