Rockets open home stand with win over IonaWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
The UT women’s basketball team opened a four-game home stand with a 54-42 win over Iona in the first game after senior guard Naama Shafir was ruled out for the season.
“Naama brings so much to our team,” senior guard Courtney Ingersoll said. “The good thing is we got ourselves together and made a quick adjustment. It’s going to take a little bit. It’s going to take polishing. She played 106 great games. We missed her, but we’re going to be okay.”
Junior center Kyle Baumgartner led the Rockets (4-2) with a team-high 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
“We’re starting to see the Kyle that we knew she could be,” Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop said. “It was good to see her in crunch situations do what we knew she was capable of like hitting an outside shot, getting a rebound, playing good defense and being extremely confident.”
Senior guard Courtney Ingersoll shot 4 of 8 from three-point range for 12 points along with six rebounds.
“Some of our offensive sets I find myself in the corner,” Ingersoll said. “That’s one of my favorite shots. I just try to knock it down.”
Ingersoll is shooting 11 of 21 from three-point range in the past three games since Shafir was injured with 47 points and 19 rebounds.
“With or without Naama, as a senior you have a role that you need to play,” Ingersoll said. “I’m sure Haylie [Linn] feels the same way. We have that responsibility. We want to make our own legacy. Naama will still be a part of the senior class, but you have to take that role not just because she’s gone.”
Sophomore guard Andola Dortch had 11 points and six rebounds and paced the offense with a career-high nine assists.
The Rockets shot just 21 of 69 from the field and 4 of 13 from the free-throw line, but the team had a season-high 23 offensive rebounds and a season-low nine turnovers.
“Getting 23 rebounds says that you have the desire to win the basketball game,” Cullop said. “It wasn’t exactly what you would have liked to see in every instance today, but we’re taking steps forward.”
“Offensive rebounds are always important, especially if you’re not hitting when you need to,” Baumgartner said. “It also takes something away from them when you miss a shot, get the rebound and bring it back out and they have to play defense another round. It’s a big momentum change.”
Forward Kristina Ford led Iona (4-3) with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Toledo held Ford to six points and three rebounds in the second half with two turnovers.
“We did a much better job in the second half,” Cullop said. “The players focused and did what we asked them to do. I thought they wore her down.”
“We stopped some of their key players and talked a lot more on defense [in the second half],” Baumgartner said. “We played better defense and knocked down shots when we needed them.”
Iona opened the game with a 10-3 run, but Dortch and Ingersoll responded with three pointers and junior center Yolanda Richardson made a layup for an 11-10 lead with 12:11 remaining in the first half.
“We started a little bit slow and they kind of set the tempo,” Baumgartner said. “We reiterated at halftime that we needed to set the tempo and start our way.”
The teams exchanged the lead until Baumgartner hit a jumper at the buzzer for a 24-22 lead at halftime.
Iona continue to keep the game close in the second half. Ford hit a jumper to tie the game at 42-42 with 5:51 remaining, but it was the last points Iona scored. UT ended the game on a 10-0 run with two baskets from Baumgartner and a three pointer each from Dortch and Ingersoll.
The Rockets host Colorado State (1-5) at 3 p.m. on Dec. 4 as the team continues to adjust to a lineup without Shafir.
“It may take us a little bit to brush up on some things that are new or different until we look like a polished wheel again, and that’s okay,” Cullop said.
“With that adversity, it’s either going to break you or build you,” Ingersoll said. “We have good leadership, a good coaching staff and great fans surrounding us. It’s going to be hard missing Naama, but we have to remember there are a lot of teams out there that have it worse than us. Oklahoma State lost their head coach and assistant coach and came back to beat Rice. Every team is going to go through adversity. It happened to us early on, so we have a little bit of a period here where we’re going to build over that.”