Toledo to host Wright State in first round of WNIT

March 16, 2018 | Athletics, Events
By Brian DeBenedictis

Toledo (17-14) will get the chance to lace up the sneakers at least one more time Friday, March 16, as the Rockets entertain Horizon League member Wright State (23-10) in the first round of the 2018 Postseason WNIT.

Tip-off time between the Rockets and Raiders will be 7 p.m. in Savage Arena and will be streamed live on ESPN3.

Sophomore Mariella Santucci is averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 assists in 37.0 minutes over the last three contests, shooting 38.9 percent (7 of 18) from three-point land.

The winner of the contest will take on the winner of the Michigan State (17-13) and Cincinnati (19-12) game Sunday-Tuesday, March 18-20. Sites and times for the second round will be released at a later date.

UT is one of 32 at-large qualifiers in this year’s event and one of three Mid-American Conference representatives — along with Ball State and Miami — in the 64-team field.

Toledo will be appearing in the Postseason WNIT for a sixth time under 10th-year Head Coach Tricia Cullop and 11th time overall. The Rockets are 20-9 (.690) in the post-season tourney, including 13-4 (.765) under Cullop, and previously reached the WNIT (formerly NWIT) in 1989, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2012 , 2013 and 2015. UT also has won its first game in the Postseason WNIT in each of its last five appearances.

Most recently, the Midnight Blue and Gold advanced to the second round of the 2015 Postseason WNIT with a home victory against the Wright State Raiders, 72-64. UT’s season came to an end that year with a 74-58 home setback against Big Ten Conference member Michigan.

Toledo, the 2011 Postseason WNIT Champions, is coming off an 80-76 overtime setback vs. Kent State March 5 in the first round of the MAC Tournament. 

The Golden Flashes rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to hand UT its first opening-round setback in the conference tourney.

Junior Kaayla McIntyre paced Toledo with 18 points against KSU, followed closely by junior Mikaela Boyd and sophomore Mariella Santucci with 14 points each, and senior Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott with 11 points, respectively.

Santucci helped UT build a 36-26 halftime lead with a career-tying best three triples in the opening two periods. The Rockets eventually built their margin to a game-high 17 points, 53-36, with 2:17 left in the third period on a three-pointer by Bravo-Harriott. Unfortunately for the Rockets, KSU rallied in the fourth stanza to force the extra period and eventually came out on top, ending UT’s bid to successfully defend its MAC Championship.

McIntyre, Boyd and Bravo-Harriott continue to lead Toledo offensively, scoring 16.1, 12.7 and 12.4 points per game, respectively. McIntyre and Boyd earned third-team All-MAC honors, and Bravo-Harriott captured honorable mention accolades.

The Rockets will take on a Wright State squad that had its four-game winning streak snapped in the Horizon League Championship Game with a 62-44 setback against Green Bay March 6. Lexi Smith led the Raiders with 14 points, while Horizon League Player of the Year Chelsea Welch had 13 points, six steals, four boards and two blocked shots.

Wright State, which is 13-7 away from home, possesses a balanced offense with three players averaging in double figures, paced by Welsh’s league-best 21.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, 4.5 assists per game, 2.3 steals per game and 35.8 minutes per game. 

As a team, the Raiders are leading their league in scoring offense (73.1 points per game), turnover margin (plus 6.1) and offensive rebounding (16.7 rebounds per game), as well as ranking second in steals (9.2 steals per game) and assist/turnover ratio (plus1.2) and third in scoring margin (+12.1 points per game). 

Toledo and Wright State will meet for the 10th overall time and second in the Postseason WNIT. UT leads the all-time series 6-3 and has won the last five matchups against its intrastate foe by an average of 7.6 points per game (70.6-63.0). 

Toledo also has claimed a 71-59 road victory Feb. 24, 1981, a 79-67 home triumph Dec. 17, 1982, a 69-66 home win Dec. 10, 2005, and a 62-59 road victory Nov. 29, 2006, during its current unbeaten stretch. 

UT is 66-44 (.600) all-time against Horizon League schools, including 18-8 (.692) under Cullop. The Rockets are also in the midst of an eight-game winning streak against Horizon League teams dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.

Tickets for Friday’s first-round game are $15 for elite reserved, $12 for general admission and $6 for youth 12 and younger for general admission.

UT students will receive free admission with a valid ID for the first-round game.

Tickets are on sale in the UT Ticket Office or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653).

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