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TOUGH TIMES IN TOLEDO
UB women can't quite complete comeback and fall to the Rockets, 75-66, in a mid-season title match.
Image from toledoblade.com
Over 4,000 fans showed up to the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena on Saturday as the women’s basketball team took on Buffalo in a battle for the top of the Mid-American Conference standings.
Those fans got a battle, alright—maybe closer to a rock fight. The Bulls (11-5 overall, 5-1 in Mid-American Conference play) saw their five-game winning streak snapped in a hard-fought loss to the Rockets (14-3, 8-0), 75-66.
The road game had everything a team like UB, looking to make a long postseason run, should experience—a hostile crowd, a physical opponent, questionable officiating, tight defense and scoring droughts on both sides, a scramble for solutions due to off-nights from the stars, a tooth-and-nail comeback.
Buffalo went through it all, falling behind by as many as 16 points with 2:23 left in the third quarter, cutting the Toledo lead to three with 3:10 in the game, and then faltering for good as UT reeled off a 10-4 run to close it out.
The Rockets (14-3, 8-0 MAC) are off to their best start in Mid-American Conference play since the 1998-99 season, when Toledo also began league play 8-0. The program record for most wins to begin MAC play is 11, which was achieved by the 1993-94 team.
Only three teams across the country are undefeated in conference play and have at least eight league wins: Toledo (8-0), South Dakota State (9-0, Summit), and No. 4 NC State (8-0, ACC).
"I'm really, really proud of our team today," head coach Tricia Cullop said. "Buffalo is a very good team and very athletic…I think it took a lot of mental toughness for us to go out there and win today. This was a battle of two really good teams. And as proud as I am of our players, I'm just as proud of our fans. To have them in here creating the incredible environment they do, we're just so happy to have them back."
THE STARS DID NOT ALIGN
Image from toledoblade.com
No one works harder than UB’s heralded sophomore guard Dyaisha Fair (pictured above). Maybe it showed on Saturday—and not in a good way.
Fair shot four-for-20 from the field, unable to find her customary touch as her trademark stop-and-pop mid-range jumpers clanked off the front of the rim and layup attempts ricocheted high off the backboard.
“We just really tried to focus on stopping their big two,” (17-point scorer Quinesha) Lockett told The Toledo Blade’s Kyle Rowland, referring to Fair and forward Summer Hemphill, who had 20 points and fouled out with nearly eight minutes left. “(We) just had to buckle down, look at each other, and tell each other, we’re here. We’re playing for first. This is it. It’s the only time we play them, so we have to win this one.”
Shooting legs can get tired, and after a 12-day layoff, the Bulls played three games in six days—with two more coming up over the next three days. Perhaps Fair, a notoriously hard worker, needs to give herself a break. Hopefully, she took some R&R today.
Hemphill double-doubled for the sixth time this season with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but, as Rowland wrote, fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
Freshman guard Georgia Woolley scored 13 points with seven rebounds and four assists, but shot five-of-12 from the field and one-of-five from three.
A game after each posted double-double, forwards Adebola Adeyeye and Loren Christie combined for six points and six rebounds. Christie played just 13 minutes, the least she’s recorded since Buffalo lost at Bucknell on Dec. 20, which was also the last time she was held scoreless.
And yet…the game was there to be won with three minutes remaining.
It didn’t work out. Maybe that leaves the Bulls with another element a winning team needs for a long postseason run: something to prove.
RIGHT BACK AT IT
Image from ohiobobcats.com
There’s no time to dwell on broken streaks, poor shooting nights, or what could’ve been. No, it’s onto Athens to kick off another three-game week, starting with the Ohio Bobcats (9-5, 3-2), the league scoring leaders at 78 points per game.
The hosts, led by MAC legend Cece Hooks (pictured above), won’t cut the Bulls any slack—especially at the Convocation Center, where they’re 5-1 this season.
Ohio's last game out, against Bowling Green, was filled with history making, as senior point guard Cece Hooks set a new MAC career scoring record (2,510 points), passing Kim Knuth with a floater in the third quarter against the Falcons.
Hooks (also) moved into a tie for 10th place all time in NCAA history for career steals (458) on Jan. 22 against Bowling Green.
Erica Johnson is one of only three active four- year players with career totals of at least 1,300 points, 450 rebounds, 350 assists, and 100 steals. She joins Haylee Andrews (Portland) and Sophia Ramos (San Diego State) on that list.
The Bobcats and Bulls' last meeting was an instant classic, with Ohio coming out on top, 84-81. The Bobcats trailed by 11 points with less than three minutes to play, but a furious comeback was capped off by a Kaylee Bambule go-ahead three-pointer with 12 seconds to go.
It’s gut-check time for UB. Tipoff is 7 p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.
A BUSY WEEK FOR UB BASKETBALL
Image from ubbulls.com
We have our work cut out for us, friends. Here’s this week’s schedule, barring postponements:
MONDAY: Women at Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPN3
TUESDAY: Men at Toledo, 7 p.m., ESPN+
WEDNESDAY: Women vs. Ball State, 7 p.m., ESPN+
FRIDAY: Men vs. Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPNU
SATURDAY: Women vs. Northern Illinois, 2 p.m., TV TBD
Happy watching, everyone. And sorry about the Bills. Just brutal.
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