Rockets bounced from WNIT after losing 63-55 to IllinoisWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | email@example.com
Turnovers and cold shooting ended the University of Toledo women’s basketball team’s WNIT title hopes as the Illinois Fighting Illini defeated the Rockets 63-55 in the Sweet 16 on March 28.
“Much of the credit goes to Illinois; their strength, their athleticism, the 23 turnovers we had, they worked their tails off to cause those,” said Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop. “I wish we could have made some of the easy bunnies we left out there. I think it was a lack of trying too hard.”
Toledo committed 23 turnovers and the Fighting Illini scored 20 points off the errors.
Senior guard Naama Shafir and sophomore guard Inma Zanoguera, two of the Rockets’ key playmakers, combined for 10-of-38 for the field.
Toledo finished the night shooting 35.3 percent (24-of-68).
Shafir said, despite getting open looks against Illinois’ buzz defense, “shots didn’t fall in.”
“I know I missed a lot,” said Shafir, who finished with 10 points and six assists in her final game as a Rocket. “We played hard, we really wanted to win and wanted to continue as a team.”
Fighting Illini forward Karisma Penn led all scorers with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite three of Illinois’ starters having three or more personal fouls, the Rockets made it to the free-throw line only four times.
Senior center Yolanda Richardson scored 12 points, shooting 6-of-6 from the field in her UT finale, 10 of them coming in the first half.
“You know that your time is coming to the end but I guess you never think about it until it happens,” she said. “Right now I’m still in shock because I was expecting to have practice tomorrow. I planned my day around having practice tomorrow.”
The Rockets did not get on the scoreboard until 5:37 into the game on a Shafir jump shot.
Illinois held the lead for a majority of the first half but lost it for a span of 3:42 and regained it on a three-pointer by guard Amber Moore, who finished the night with 18 points.
Toledo eventually erased the six-point halftime deficit with 8:46 left to play when Shafir weaved through traffic and hit a layup to give the Rockets a one-point lead.
The Fighting Illini responded by going on a 9-0 run and never looked back.
Illinois will face Kansas State, which knocked off Ball State 60-48 on March 28, in the next round.