Toledo claimed its 12th pre-conference tourney title in school history with an impressive 80-61 victory over Virginia Commonwealth University Sunday at the Arizona State University Classic in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. With the dominating win, the Rockets improve to 2-6 on the season.
UT shot a sizzling 49.0 percent (25 of 51) from the field, including 45.0 percent (9 of 20) from three-point range, and 84.0 percent (21 of 25) from the free-throw line to post the decisive 19-point neutral-court victory over the Rams (6-2).With Toledo’s offense in high gear, the defense followed suit and held VCU to 33.3 percent (22 of 66) from the floor, including 21.7 percent (5 of 23) from beyond the arc.
Junior Janice Monakana and senior Brenae Harris led a balanced UT attack with a career-high 24 and 21 points, respectively. Monakana added six rebounds and a collegiate-best four steals, while Harris dished out a team-high five assists.
In this weekend’s two wins, Harris averaged a team-high 30.0 points and 4.5 dimes, while Monakana tallied 15.5 points and a squad-best 8.0 caroms.
The Rockets also received 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds from senior Ana Capotosto and 15 points from sophomore Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott to register the wire-to-wire victory over their Atlantic-10 Conference opponent.
Isis Thorpe paced the Rams with 13 points, followed closely by Chadarryl Clay with 12 off the bench.
Toledo came out hot, hitting six of its first eight shots from the field to claim a 14-8 lead at the 4:17 mark. Four different Rockets knocked down shots in the opening five-plus minutes, including seven points from Bravo-Harriott. The 2014-15 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year converted a pair of layups and a triple to give the Midnight Blue and Gold a two-possession advantage.
UT continued to play at a high level in the opening 10 minutes, utilizing a pivotal 21-1 burst to create a 30-9 lead. Bravo-Harriott and Monakana combined for 15 of the points in the decisive rally to make it a 21-point difference at the conclusion of the quarter.
The Rams fought their way back into the non-league matchup with a 16-5 run to conclude the second quarter and set the margin at 42-30 at halftime. VCU knocked down its final seven shots from the field, sparked by 11 points from Clay to close the gap a bit after 20 minutes of competition.
Toledo responded in grand fashion in the opening stages of the third period on the strength of six points from Monakana to make the difference at 53-38 at the 6:06 mark. The London, England, native was credited with a triple and three charity tosses to create a 15-point advantage in the opening three-plus minutes of the quarter.
Monakana could not be stopped in the period and rattled off nine points to essentially put the contest out of reach, helping Toledo build a 23-point advantage, 67-44, with only 10 minutes left to play.
The Rockets then cleared their bench in the final period and cruised to the impressive 19-point neutral-court triumph.
Toledo will return to action Saturday, Dec. 12, when it hosts Horizon League member Cleveland State. The opening tip against the Vikings is slated for 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.