Toledo loses to EMU in MAC Tournament Semifinals, 59-57

March 9, 2012 | News, UToday
By Brian DeBenedictis



Junior Yolanda Richardson led the Rockets with 15 points in the MAC Tournament Semifinal game.

No. 2 seed Eastern Michigan scored the game’s final eight points and registered a heartbreaking 59-57 victory over No. 3 seed Toledo in Friday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament Semifinals in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

With the loss, the Rockets fall to 21-9 on the season.

EMU’s Tavelyn James hit a three-point field goal to start the game-changing run, shrinking UT’s lead to 57-54 with 2:10 left in regulation.

Following a Toledo turnover, James knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a one-point contest, 57-56, at 1:58.
The Rockets then were guilty of another miscue, and Eastern Michigan’s Paige Redditt converted a layup to give the Eagles’ their first lead of the game, 58-57, with 1:09 left on the clock.

UT could not convert on its next offensive trip and was forced to foul. Redditt split a pair of charity tosses to keep it a one-possession contest, 59-57, with only 27 seconds left.
Toledo had two good looks to tie the score in the waning seconds, but senior Courtney Ingersoll and senior Haylie Linn both came up short on their field-goal attempts.

Junior Yolanda Richardson led the 2011-12 MAC West Division Co-Champs with 15 points, a game-high 10 boards and two blocks to post her fifth double-double of the season.
Ingersoll buried a game-high four treys and finished with 14 points. Junior Lecretia Smith had 10 points, and sophomore Andola Dortch dished out a career-high 12 assists.

The Rockets shot a sizzling 48.0 percent (24 of 50) from the field, including 50.0 percent (7 of 14) from three-point land, but they were hindered by 27 turnovers. EMU took full advantage of those miscues and translated them into 26 points.

Coach Tricia Cullop yelled on the sidelines during the game.

Natachia Watkins and MAC Player of the Year James paced the Eagles with game-highs 19 points each to knock Toledo out of the postseason tourney for the second-consecutive season.

The Rockets received a pair of early triples from Linn to race out to a 10-4 lead with 15:33 remaining in the opening period.

UT continued to play well as the first half wore on, taking advantage of back-to-back layups from Richardson and Smith to make the score 14-8 at 11:49. The 2011 WNIT Champs knocked down six of their first 14 shots, while EMU converted on only four of its opening 18 field-goal attempts to establish a three-possession lead.

Toledo would go the next four-plus minutes without a bucket, but EMU could not find the range either and a triple from Ingersoll pushed the margin to 17-10 at the 8:11 mark.
The Rockets’ lead dwindled to two points on one occasion late in the period, but they retaliated with layups from Richardson and Smith to take a 28-23 advantage into the locker room.

UT’s Richardson spearheaded a 9-4 run to begin the second half, pushing the lead to 36-27 with 17:47 left in regulation. The Toledo native scored six of the nine points in the opening burst.

Moments later, UT’s Ingersoll knocked down three treys to make the score 45-39 at the 12:28 mark.

The Rockets pounded the ball inside and consecutive layups from junior Kyle Baumgartner and Smith extended the lead to double figures, 49-39, with 9:45 left in regulation.

Richardson and the Rockets looked like they had the game in hand when she converted a pair of layups to set the score at 57-51 with 3:17 remaining, but EMU countered with the game-changing run to make its second consecutive appearance in the MAC Tourney Finals.

The Rockets will have to wait until Monday evening to see if they will receive an invitation to the WNIT.