Toledo tops Northern Illinois in MAC Tournament Quarterfinals, 72-62

March 9, 2012 | News, UToday
By Brian DeBenedictis

Andola Dortch led the Rockets with 24 points.

No. 3 seed Toledo held No. 7 seed Northern Illinois scoreless for almost 12 minutes in the second half and notched a 72-62 victory Thursday in the Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinals contest inside Quicken Loans Arena.

With the victory, the Rockets (21-8) will advance to the MAC Tourney Semifinals for the fifth straight season and face No. 2 seed Eastern Michigan Friday, March 9, at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Sophomore Andola Dortch paced the 2011-12 MAC West Division co-champs with a game-high 24 points and a contest-best eight assists. Dortch was instrumental in Toledo’s second-half surge, tallying 14 points after the intermission to finish in double digits for the team-best 23rd time this season.

Senior Haylie Linn added 12 points in a winning effort, while junior Kyle Baumgartner tossed in nine points, and senior Courtney Ingersoll and junior Lecretia Smith totaled eight points each to help UT defeat the Huskies (14-17) for the third time this season.

NIU’s Courtney Shelton hit a jumper to give the visitors a 44-40 lead with 18:08 left in regulation. Northern Illinois did not score again until Natecia Augusta converted a pair of free throws at the 6:45 mark. The Rockets took advantage of the drought and reeled off 14 straight points to establish a double-digit cushion.

Toledo put it in cruise control from there and did not allow its lead to dip below nine points for the remainder of the contest to improve to 3-1 against NIU in the MAC Tourney.

Dortch poured in eight of UT’s final 16 points to preserve the victory and set up a rematch with Eastern Michigan from last year’s MAC Tournament Semifinals, when the Eagles upset the top-seed Rockets, 61-55.

Kim Davis paced NIU with 14 points, followed by Amanda Corral with 13 points.

The Huskies controlled the contest early on, receiving three triples from Shelton to shoot out to a 15-10 lead with 14:19 remaining in the first half.

NIU continued to knock down shots as the first period wore on, and a trey by Corral made the difference 22-12 at 11:51. Northern Illinois made four of its first six three-point attempts to build an early double-digit cushion.

UT then started to find its shooting groove as well, utilizing a 10-0 run to knot the score at 34-34 with 4:20 left in the opening stanza. Dortch and Linn spearheaded the burst with five points each.

Northern Illinois effectively used a pair of timeouts to stall out Toledo’s run, and Corral retaliated with five straight points to give the advantage back to the visitors, 40-38, at the intermission.

NIU shot a sizzling 57.7 percent (23 of 58) in the first half, but was limited to 25.0 percent (8 of 32) in the second period.

Click to access the login or register cheese