Counting on Courtney: Ingersoll delivers for UT in rivalryWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
Though Toledo senior guard Courtney Ingersoll only made one shot in her final regular season matchup against archrival Bowling Green, it was all she needed to bury her nemesis on her home floor at Savage Arena.
The Rockets’ second-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game heading into her team’s bout with the Falcons on Saturday, Ingersoll was held scoreless until the fourth quarter thanks to stifling defense from BG freshman guard Jasmine Matthews.
But with less than 90 seconds left and UT trailing by two, Ingersoll got open off a screen at the top of the three-point line, took a pass from junior center Yolanda Richardson and hoisted a shot that hit nothing but net to give Toledo a 51-50 lead at the 1:08 mark.
“It was like the ocean finally parted,” Ingersoll said of what ended up being the game-winning bucket. “Jasmine Matthews played a really, really good defensive game on me. She was making it extremely hard to get any kind of shot off, as you guys witnessed the air ball in the first half.
“Kudos to her, but it felt good to finally get an open look at the basket.”
Ingersoll wasn’t done there. When senior guard Haylie Linn missed a trey on the Rockets’ ensuing possession, Ingersoll was there to collect the rebound and went one-for-two from the free-throw line to extend Toledo’s lead to 52-50 with 26.5 seconds left after getting fouled.
And on the game’s final play, it was Ingersoll who helped sophomore guard Andola Dortch lock up Chrissy Steffen — Bowling Green’s best player who had a game-high 20 points — preventing the Mid-American Conference’s sixth-leading scorer from getting a clean look at the basket as UT held on for the victory.
“Just doing my job, I guess,” Ingersoll said of the crucial plays she made in the contest’s final minutes. “I don’t know. I’m not going to take it as a senior thing. I’m just going to do what I was supposed to do. And the good thing is playing against people like Lauren Prochaska and Tracy Pontius and knowing what they’re going to do at the end of the game, it just comes with experience. I’m grateful that I had the experience, I guess.”
Ingersoll isn’t the only one who’s grateful for her experience. When it came time for the Rockets to make a play at the end, there was no question in Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop’s mind of what player she was going to try to get the ball to.
Although Ingersoll’s offensive numbers were down against the Falcons, the hustle she has displayed throughout her career was prevalent in the rivalry as she registered team-highs of seven rebounds and three steals in 39 minutes. The combination of that defensive prowess and Richardson’s second-half offensive surge in the post led to Cullop giving her senior the chance to pull the trigger.
“She’s a clutch player,” Culllop said of Ingersoll. “She’s come up with big rebounds; big defensive stops; nailing big threes late in games. And I just knew that it would be a great opportunity. Did I know it was going in? No. But why not give a senior that opportunity and let the senior win or lose in a rival game like this?
“I also knew that they were going to really probably pack it in against Yolanda and not let her have the look, so as much as they were focusing on Yolanda because we kept going to her and they kept expecting Andola [Dortch] to drive, why not let somebody else have an opportunity?”
Cullop also acknowledged that when BG had one final opportunity to either tie or win the game at the end, it was Ingersoll that she wanted guarding Steffen.
“Yes,” Cullop said. “We were switching a lot. The main thing was that — and we talked about in that timeout right before — we could give up a two. A tie was fine, but we couldn’t foul and we couldn’t give up a three. And our players I thought did a great job of not fouling, staying in front, pressuring the ball [and] not giving them any looks.”
Ingersoll has earned that trust from Cullop over the course of her four years at UT, evidence that was apparent not only in Saturday’s game, but also throughout this season. Her scoring average has nearly tripled from her 4.2 points per game during the 2010-11campaign. In addition, Ingersoll entered the Bowling Green matchup ranked No. 3 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the MAC in three-point field goal percentage (45.9).
“Courtney’s really emerged as a leader and a winner,” Cullop said. “She’s always been a winner, but just someone when the game is on the line — whether we’re playing defense or we’re trying to execute something offensively — she’s kind of that take-charge kid out there on the court that brings so much energy.
“When the game’s on the line, you kind of need that rah-rah kid in that huddle that’s on the court when the coach can’t be present, and there’s no question in my mind what’s going on in those huddles. I guarantee you she’s giving everybody all kinds of sugar and energy — and we call ‘sugar’ compliments.”
And like a true leader, Ingersoll isn’t about gloating, even after a clutch performance against her school’s archrival. She’s already thinking about Toledo’s next test at Central Michigan on Wednesday.
“A lot of people are going to talk about it as a rivalry,” Ingersoll said. “More importantly, it’s just edging away. There’s still one game ahead of us. We have to win out, and we knew that we had to run the table to even be in contention for a MAC Championship. It started today.”