Toledo extended its win streak to four-consecutive games with a 59-43 victory over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (3-4) Saturday in the opening round of the inaugural Glass City Tournament in Savage Arena.
UT will play St. Bonaventure (4-4) Sunday, Dec. 2, in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. The Bonnies advanced to the title matchup with a 56-36 triumph over Southern (0-6) Saturday in the other opening-round contest.
The storyline of today’s game was Toledo’s pivotal run in the first stanza and its ability to score points off Cougars’ turnovers. UT put together a 29-1 burst midway through the opening period to break open a close contest. The Rockets also forced SIUE into 26 miscues, which they translated into 27 crucial points.
Senior Naama Shafir paced the midnight blue and gold with 12 points and three assists in only 12 minutes. The fifth-year senior tweaked her ankle late in the first period and did not return. Head Coach Tricia Cullop expects the three-time All-Mid-American Conference selection to be ready to go tomorrow against SBU.
Senior Riley McCormick, junior Andola Dortch and sophomore Inma Zanoguera picked up the slack with Shafir out of the lineup with nine points each, while junior Janelle Reed-Lewis contributed eight points in a winning effort.
The Rockets shot 39.0 percent (23 of 59) from the field; this included 29.2 percent (7 of 24) from beyond the arc and 42.9 percent (6 of 14) from the charity stripe to move a step closer to capturing their second tourney title in as many weekends.
UT won the John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic in Reno, Nev., last weekend with victories against Santa Clara and the host Wolf Pack.
SIUE’s CoCo Moore and Raven Berry converted early layups to give the visitors a 5-4 lead at the 17:19 mark. The Cougars would not tally another field goal for the next 12-plus minutes, and as a result of that dry spell the contest was essentially over.
The three-time MAC West Division Champions responded with the game-changing run to establish an insurmountable cushion, 41-6, with 5:17 left in the opening half. Shafir scored all 12 of her points to spark the offensive explosion, while McCormick drained three triples and Reed-Lewis had seven points off the bench.
Toledo did a bulk of its damage in the pivotal stretch from beyond the arc, hitting five of its first six shots and converted a total of seven bombs to build a 25-point bulge, 41-16, at the intermission. The Rockets came into today’s game leading the league in three-point field goals made (7.4) and three-point field percentage (37.4 percent).
In the second half, Cullop emptied her bench and gave her younger players some quality minutes. The Rockets were never really threatened in the final 20 minutes and settled for a 16-point victory.
Ashley Capotosto, no relation to UT redshirt freshman Ana Capotosto, led the Cougars with eight points off the bench. Leading scorer Berry, who into today’s game averaging 14.0 points per game, was held to three points.
SIUE shot 30.2 percent (13 of 43) from the field, including 50.0 percent (2 of 4) from three-point land and 55.6 percent (15 of 27) from the free-throw line, to suffer its second most-lopsided loss of the season. They entered today’s showdown tallying 58.2 points per game.