The University of Toledo women’s basketball team rode the hot hand of sophomore Ana Capotosto to knock off No. 7 seed Western Michigan, 72-61, in second-round action at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday afternoon.The victory allows the No. 6 seed Rockets (16-15) to advance to the quarterfinals Thursday when they will play No. 3 seed Akron (20-9) at approximately 2:20 p.m.
Toledo, which defeated Ohio in the first round at Savage Arena Monday, will need three more victories to secure its first MAC Tournament title since 2001.
UT won convincingly despite losing two close games to the Broncos in the regular season.
“Our saga with Western Michigan this year has been like watching a good movie with a bad ending,” said Head Coach Tricia Cullop. “I told our team, let’s write a new ending to the story this time. We did a much better job of taking care of the basketball, and we made our shots.”
Capotosto, who knocked down her first seven shots, finished with a career-high-tying 21 points. She was eight of 10 from the field and converted five of six shots from three-point range.
Senior Andola Dortch added 12 points and five assists, while freshman Janice Monakana overcame a second-half ankle injury to score 10 points and grab six rebounds.
“Ana Capotosto and Janice Monakana gave us a huge lift at different times of the game,” Cullop said.
The Rockets were aided by accurate shooting and stingy defense. UT connected on 28 of 63 (44.4 percent) of its shots (seven of 13 from long range), while holding the Broncos to just 25 of 69 (37.9 percent). Miracle Woods led WMU with 23 points.
WMU jumped out to a 4-0 lead to open the contest, but Capotosto keyed a 9-0 Toledo run with back-to-back jumpers that gave the Rockets an early 9-4 lead.
Toledo held the lead throughout much of the rest of the first half until a 12-2 Bronco run gave Western a 21-19 lead with 3:39 left on the clock. The lead changed hands five more times before Toledo settled on a 30-28 halftime edge.
The Rockets shot 13 of 30 (43.3 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes while holding WMU to just 11 of 36 (30.6 percent).
Capotosto kept up the pressure in the second half, helping the Midnight Blue and Gold extend its lead to seven, 39-32, when she nailed a three-pointer with 16:06 left. A short while later, she buried a two-pointer to increase the lead to 47-37, with 11:50 left. Then she just about knocked the fight out of WMU with yet another trey to increase the Rocket lead to 61-46 with 7:22 left.
Western made a last-gasp effort, going on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 68-59 with 1:17 left. But it was too little, too late, as Dortch and junior Inma Zanoguera slammed the door shut with a pair of free throws each in the final minute.