Toledo Drops 84-71 Decision at CMU in MAC Opener - Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

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Toledo Drops 84-71 Decision at CMU in MAC Opener

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Toledo dropped an 84-71 decision at Central Michigan in Saturday's Mid-American Conference opener in McGuirk Arena. With the loss, the Rockets fall to 5-7 overall, 0-1 in the league.

The Chippewas (5-8, 1-0 MAC) took advantage of a 24-4 run in the early stages of the second half to defeat UT in the league opener for a second straight year. The Midnight Blue & Gold held a 49-43 lead with 16:21 left in regulation, before CMU went on the game-changing burst to remain unbeaten at home (3-0).

Junior Inma Zanoguera led three Rockets in double figures with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Zanougera shot an efficient 10-of-17 from the field, including 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, to score at least 20 points for a fourth time this year.

Senior Andola Dortch added 17 points and classmate Brianna Jones had 11 points with a team-high 10 boards to post her second straight double-double and fourth of the season.

As a team, UT connected on 38.9 percent (28-of-72) from the floor, including 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from three-point land, and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the charity stripe to drop its third-consecutive contest for a first time since November 2010.

MAC Player of the Year candidate Crystal Bradford paced the reigning conference tourney champions with a game-high 24 points, 13 caroms, five dimes and two steals. Bradford was instrumental in the game-changing run and tallied 10 of the 24 points to give the home team a lead they would not surrender.

Kerby Tamm contributed 16 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range, while Niki DiGuilio also knocked down four triples and finished with 12 points.

As a unit, Central Michigan shot 44.9 percent (31-of-69) from the field, including a 43.8 percent (14-of-32) from three-point range, and 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the charity stripe. The Chippewas' 14 threes tied for the second-highest total on the year and also signified the most given up by UT this season.

With Toledo holding a game-high six point cushion early in the second half, CMU scored 15 of the next 17 points in less than four minutes to assume a 58-51 lead at the 12:11 mark. Nine of the 15 points came as the result of three-point field goals by Taylor Johnson, Bradford and Tamm.

The Rockets momentarily stalled Central Michigan's run with a Zanoguera layup, before the home team countered with two more triples each from Tamm and Bradford to make the difference 70-55 with 9:52 remaining in the contest. The closest Toledo would get down the stretch was 11 points.   

In the first half, Toledo took advantage of points from five different players to jump out to a 14-9 lead at 13:07 mark. Dortch fueled the quick start with a field goal and two free throws.

The Rockets then received a pair of long triples from freshman Elena de Alfredo to make the margin 22-20 with 7:51 left in opening period. The Madrid, Spain native came into today's MAC opener with six treys in her first seven games wearing the Midnight Blue & Gold.

The score would be tied three more times in the waning moments of the period, before Toledo received three-point field goals from Zanoguera and Dortch to assume a 37-35 lead at the intermission.

Following Saturday's conference opener, the Rockets will entertain Northern Illinois on Thursday, Jan. 9. Tip-off is slated for 11:00 a.m. in Savage Arena. Toledo will host the third-annual Rocket Women's Basketball Educational Day in conjunction with the game against the Huskies.