Toledo downs Ball State 63-48Written by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After grinding through a seven-game stretch where five of those contests were decided by five points or less, Toledo showed its’ toughness in a 63-48 victory over Ball State at Savage Arena on Thursday night. Despite playing without junior forward and team co-captain Lecretia Smith, the Rockets used a balanced defensive attack to limit the Cardinals to just 25.9 percent shooting for the game.
“I’m very proud of our team tonight for coming out of the gate strong,” UT head coach Tricia Cullop said. “I thought we really paid attention to our gameplan. [Associate head coach] Todd Mitmesser did a great job on the scouting report.”
Toledo managed to outscore Ball State 34-16 in the paint in the absence of Smith, who injured her shoulder in practice and is day-to-day. A lot of those points came from junior center and Start graduate Yolanda Richardson, who tied her career-high with 20 points on 9 of 10 shooting from the floor.
“I was really proud that we were able to establish our low post game, and Yolanda’s leading the league in field goal percentage,” Cullop said. “She’s 9 for 10 from the field tonight. I’m very, very proud of what she’s doing on the low block. She’s garnering a lot of attention down there and making very, very good decisions, but [I’m] also proud of the fact that our guards did a great job of distributing the ball at the right time.”
“In practice we’ve been working on just executing more on offense, as in the guards’ standpoint in passing, us as in catching,” Richardson said. “We’ve been working on it a lot in practice, so I think it really came over into the game, too—just really get it down low and get a inside-out presence.”
Senior guard Courtney Ingersoll registered her first career double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds in the contest, while sophomore guard Andola Dortch finished with eight points and a team-high eight assists to go with five rebounds. UT also received a solid outing from freshman forward Inma Zanoguera, who went 3 of 4 from the field and had nine points.
“I think it feels good just because it shows, like, everyone that we can go out and play hard from start to finish,” Ingersoll said. “And I thought this was probably one of our best start to finish [Mid-American Conference] games we’ve had so far this season.”
The Rockets (10-7, 3-2 MAC) got on the board first to start the game as senior guard Haylie Linn got into the paint and was fouled on her layup, hitting the free throw to give Toledo a 3-0 advantage at the 19:01 mark. After going up 8-3 following a bucket from Zanoguera with 16:23 to go in the half, however, UT went nearly four minutes without another point until Zanoguera’s free throws extended her team’s lead to 10-3 with 12:28 left in the opening period.
The Cardinals (7-11, 2-3 MAC), meanwhile, didn’t get their second field goal of the game until the 10:45 mark when Brittany Carter sunk the team’s second three-pointer of the contest to make it 14-6 in favor of the Rockets. Ball State went on a 9-4 run following that trey to make it an 18-15 ballgame with 6:26 left in the half after another three-pointer from Mercedes Miller.
Toledo answered with an 8-0 run to go up 26-15, getting two treys from Ingersoll in that stretch as the Rockets went into halftime up 31-20. UT picked up where it left off in the second half, using a 14-2 run by the 13:20 mark to go up 45-22. The closest Ball State got the rest of the way was 11 as the Rockets came away with the 15-point victory.
Cullop said she talked to the team prior to the game about how her squads overcame injuries to key players like Tanika Mays, Allie Clifton and Lisa Johnson in the past and still had success.
“We talked about that a lot before we came out tonight because everybody had to divide up what Lecretia does in order for us to win, and I thought they did,” Cullop said. “But I thought Inma stepped up big. She really played focused and with a lot of passion.”
Toledo will be in action again on Jan. 22 when it faces Ohio (9-10, 2-3 MAC) in Athens at 2 p.m.