TOLEDO, OH - Toledo held Arkansas State to 14 field goals and coasted to a 56-34 season-opening victory on Friday before 3,701 fans in Savage Arena.
UT's smoothering defense limited the Red Wolves to 27.5 percent (14-of-51) from the field, including an even more impressive 9.1 percent (1-of-11) from three-point land, to avenge last year's 64-56 setback in Jonesboro. The 34 points is tied for the eighth-fewest points allowed in school history and marked the eighth time the Midnight Blue & Gold has held an opponent under 40 points under fifth-year head coach Tricia Cullop.
Offensively, junior Janelle Reed-Lewis paced the three-time reigning Mid-American Conference West Division champions with a career-high 13 points, followed by senior Naama Shafir and sophomore Inma Zanoguera with 12 points each. Zanoguera added a career-best 10 rebounds, to go along with five steals to post her first collegiate double-double. UT also received eight points from senior Yolanda Richardson to help the Rockets improve to 21-18 all-time in season openers, including 4-1 under coach Cullop.
Toledo started fast in tonight's season-opening contest, receiving a pair of jumpers from Shafir to race out to an 8-2 lead at the 17:02 mark.
ASU quickly countered with a 7-0 run to claim its one and only lead, 9-8, with 15:17 remaining in the first half. Jane Morrill ignited the burst, tallying six of the seven points. To make matters worse for the Midnight Blue & Gold, junior Andola Dortch went down with a left knee injury at the conclusion of the run and did not return for the remainder of the opening period
Following the injury, Coach Cullop made a mass substitution to try and stall Arkansas State's momentum and it worked to perfection. The Rockets responded with a 10-2 run to recapture the advantage for good, 18-11, at 10:44. UT received field goals from all five substitutes to establish a seven-point bulge.
Toledo played with a sizable cushion for the remainder of the opening half and took a 31-22 advantage into the intermission. The 2012-13 preseason All-MAC West Division favorites hunkered down on defense and limited ASU to only one point over the four-plus minutes to build the nine-point cushion. Shafir and Reed-Lewis paced the home team with eight points each.
UT then put the game away with an 8-0 run to start the second half. Richardson was a force inside, contributing a pair of layups to establish a 39-22 lead at the 11:42 mark. ASU did not crack the scoring column following the intermission until Carlisha Wyatt knocked down a jumper at 11:33.
The closest Arkansas State would get down the stretch was 13 points, before the Rockets put the contest in cruise control and coasted to the impressive 22-point triumph.
Toledo shot 38.5 percent (25-of-65) from the field and 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from the charity stripe. UT also forced 24 ASU turnovers, which it translated into 26 points.
The Red Wolves were led by Morrill with 12 points and eight rebounds, but only two points in the second half. Their next highest scorer were Wyatt with seven points.