Rockets roll past VCU and into the WNIT’s Elite EightWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo’s perfect run in postseason play continues.
A year removed from winning the WNIT Championship, the Rockets are trying to repeat after winning 81-64 on March 22 to advance to the tournament’s Elite Eight in front of 3,042 fans in Savage Arena. Toledo has now won nine consecutive postseason games and is looking to become the first team to ever win the WNIT in back-to-back seasons.
“All along its been a team process with us,” UT head coach Tricia Cullop said. “We have won because we have a team full of players who all step up when it’s their opportunity and I’m very proud of them. I am also exceptionally humbled by our Toledo community. I’m very happy that they showed up in numbers the way they did tonight and I hope they bring even more on Saturday.”
The Rockets moved to 24-9 on the season and will compete in a rematch of last season’s WNIT Elite Eight against Syracuse (21-14) on March 24 at 2 p.m. Toledo won at home in overtime 71-68 in 2011 against the Orange.
“Last year’s game was the most intense game I was a part of during the WNIT,” Cullop said. “I think they have a lot of pride and will remember last year’s game and this will be a battle between two teams that really care and take pride in their basketball programs.”
Courtney Ingersoll tied her career-high for the second consecutive game with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting against VCU (19-15). The senior guard, who leads the nation in three-point shooting, hit 4-of-10 from behind the arc and dished out a career-high eight assists with four rebounds.
“We are the defending champs so we want to impose our will,” Ingersoll said. “You are not going to take that away from us, we want to repeat. We are playing really good basketball but I think that’s just a mentality now. We truly do not want to go home or the season to end.”
Freshman point guard Andola Dortch (9 of 13) recorded 20 points and six rebounds despite rolling her ankle, the same one she hurt earlier in the season against Bowling Green. Junior Yolanda Richardson (8 of 11) came off the bench for the second straight game and scored 17 points with eight rebounds.
“Andola Dortch showed a lot of courage tonight to have the injury she had and to get taped up and come back out and play when she was hurting,” Cullop said.
“Right now it’s fine but at that moment it hurt pretty bad,” Dortch said. “I am always going to come back [into the game].”
The Rockets had to fend off a furious attack by VCU’s Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour. Hurt scored 26 points with 17 rebounds while Barbour put up 23.
“Courtney Heard and Andrea Barbour might be two of the better players to set foot on our court this season,” Cullop said. “They are just exceptional players. We surrounded them and they were still able to get rebounds or shots for themselves and make it really frustrating for our staff.”
The game was closer than the final score indicated. With just over eight minutes remaining, the score was tied at 51 before the Rockets closed out the contest on a 30-13 run. VCU couldn’t find an answer late to counter as their season came to a close.
Tickets for the upcoming game against the Orange remain at $13 and $11 and can be purchased at the UT Ticket Office in Savage Arena or by calling (419) 530-GOLD. Cullop is giving away 100 general admission tickets to the first 50 fans to come get their tickets.