BOWLING GREEN - Toledo captured its first Mid-American Conference win of the season by defeating arch-rival Bowling Green, 48-38, on Sunday afternoon at the Stroh Center. Both teams struggled offensively, combining for a total of 36 turnovers and the lowest point total in series history. With the win, the Rockets improve to 13-2 on the season, 1-1 in the league.
UT was held to 33.3 percent (17-of-51) shooting from the field, but closed the cross-division contest with a 20-6 run to seal its third-straight victory over the Falcons (10-5, 1-1 MAC). The Rockets' defense smothered the BGSU shooters, holding the eight-time reigning MAC East Division champions to 11-of-49 (22 percent) shooting for their lowest field goal percentage of the season. The win also marked the ninth time the Rockets held an opponent under 40 points under fifth-year head coach Tricia Cullop.
Bowling Green entered the contest holding the MAC-best rebounding margin (+5.6), but Toledo dominated the glass by out-rebounding the Falcons, 47-32.
Senior Naama Shafir scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting, with three rebounds, two steals and one assist. Shafir ended two points shy of her season-high mark of 25 points, and has now scored at least 10 points in 14 of 15 games played this year.
Senior Lecretia Smith was the second-leading UT scorer with nine points and eight boards, while junior Andola Dortch and sophomore Inma Zanoguera grabbed nine caroms apiece. Senior Yolanda Richardson was held scoreless for the first time this season, but played well on the defensive end with three blocks.
The Falcons were led by Jilliian Halfhill's 13 points, including a 2-of-3 performance from three-point range. BGSU's top-two scorers , Chrissy Steffen and Alexis Rogers, were held to just 13 points total on a combined 4-of-20 shooting effort.
The Midnight Blue & Gold jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, despite five turnovers within the first three minutes of the game. UT forced three BGSU turnovers and kept the Falcons from scoring until a Steffen three pointer at the 14:59 mark.
A Shafir jumper at the 12:28 mark activated a 10-2 UT run, which kept BGSU from reaching double-digit points until four minutes left in the half. The Rockets used that run to build their largest lead of the game at 23-11 with just under three minutes. However, the Falcons responded by closing out the half on a 9-0 run and trailed the Rockets 23-20 at intermission.
BGSU's Halfhill opened up the scoring in the second half with a three pointer, tying the game at 23-23 with 16:49 left.
The Falcons climbed out to their biggest lead following a Halfhill layup with 10:37 remaining. The Rockets would respond though, as a Shafir free throw capped off a mini 7-1 run, putting UT ahead 35-31 with 6:25 on the clock.
The home team cut the lead to one point on Steffen's traditional three-point play with four minutes left, but the visitors from up north didn't flinch by closing out the game on a 20-6 run.
Shafir hit the dagger shot when a desperation heave at the end of the shot clock banked-in off the glass from beyond the arc, putting the Rockets up by six with under two minutes to go. UT hit 6-of-8 free throws in the last minute to clinch the game, helping the three-time reigning MAC West Division champions to its 14th-consecutive win over cross-division opponents.
The Rockets will return to the hardwood on Wednesday, Jan. 16 when they travel to Eastern Michigan (3-12, 1-1 MAC). The opening tip from the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti is slated for 7:00 p.m.