Win and advance. Top seed Toledo registered a hard-fought 73-65 victory over No. 8 Akron Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.With the win, the Rockets improve to 23-7 on the season. UT now will now play the winner of the No. 4 seed Kent State and No. 5 seed Eastern Michigan Friday in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m.
Junior Naama Shafir paced the 2010-11 MAC regular-season champions with a game-high 28 points. The first-team All-MAC honoree shot 8 of 16 from the field and 12 of 16 from the charity stripe to score in double figures for a team-best 25th time this season.
Joining Shafir in double figures were senior Melissa Goodall with 13 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Yolanda Richardson with 10 points, nine caroms and a game-best five blocked shots to help the Midnight Blue and Gold advance to the final four for the fourth consecutive season.
UT shot 42.1 percent (24 of 57) from the field and 73.3 percent (22 of 30) from the free-throw line to improve to 16-1 all-time as the top seed in the postseason tourney.
With the Rockets trailing 50-43 and 13:03 remaining in the second half, they went on a game-changing 14-2 run over the ensuing seven-plus minutes to retake the lead for good. Shafir was instrumental in the burst with seven points, while UT also received a huge triple from junior Courtney Ingersoll and baskets from sophomore Lecretia Smith and Richardson to take a 57-52 lead with 5:29 left in regulation.
The Zips did not go quietly and cut the margin to 58-57 at the 3:44 mark, but UT hit 15 of 18 free throws over the final three and a half minutes to claim its second victory of the season over its MAC East Division foe. The Rockets tallied a 58-49 triumph on the road Feb. 2.
Fans will be able to listen to the Rockets’ game Friday for free on RocketVision at www.utrockets.com.
Just click on the “Live Events” link in the RocketVision box on the front page, and you will be directed to a link to listen to the game.