Toledo hung tough with its arch-rival for most of the afternoon, but it wasn't enough as Bowling Green pulled away down the stretch to claim a 66-59 victory before 4,408 fans at Savage Arena on Super Bowl Sunday. With the loss, the Rockets fall to 9-11 overall and 4-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
Junior Inma Zanoguera and senior Andola Dortch led the Rockets with 13 points each. Bowling Green (18-3, 8-1 MAC) was paced by Alexis Rogers' game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Just three days after a 20-point home-court loss to Akron, UT played with an intensity one might expect in a rivalry game, holding the Falcons to just 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from the field and forcing 13 turnovers. The contest was close for most the afternoon. Only in the game's final minutes did Bowling Green break away and take a comfortable lead.
The Rockets jumped out of the gates early, pulling out to a 7-2 lead by the first media timeout thanks to two buckets by Zanoguera. The Falcons countered with a 9-2 run, capped by a three-pointer by Deborah Hoekstra to give the visitors an 11-9 advantage with 12:36 left in the half.
For the remainder of the first stanza the teams exchanged leads, with neither side building more than a three-point cushion. Toledo, which held the Falcons to 24.1 percent (7-of-29) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, clung to a 21-20 edge at the break.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the second half, though the Rockets did get off to a slow start. While the Rockets missed their first three shots, BG took advantage. Rogers knocked down three triples in a span of less than three minutes to give the Falcons a 34-30 lead with 14 minutes to play.
But Toledo fought back on a pair of baskets by senior Janelle Reed-Lewis, the second a jumper with 9:29 left that gave Toledo a 36-35 lead. The UT lead extended to three, 40-37, before the Falcons made another run. A three by Hoekstra put BG up, 47-42, with 5:27 on the clock. A pair of free throws by Zanoguera trimmed the lead to one, 47-46.
But Rogers struck again for the Orange and Brown, converting a three-point play with 3:06 left to move the lead back to four, 52-48. A three-point play by Jillian Halfhill and a pair of free throws by Erica Donovan pushed the Falcon margin up to seven, 57-50, with just under two minutes remaining.
The Falcons extended the margin to 61-51 with just over a minute to play, before the Rockets made their last attempt at a late run. A three-point play by Dortch with 43 seconds left cut the difference to six, 64-58. A pair of missed free throws by Rogers gave UT a glimmer of hope. Freshman Elena de Alfredo missed a three-point attempt that was rebounded by Zanoguera. She was fouled on the play but missed the second of two free throws. Zanoguera then fouled Halfhill, who capped the scoring with a pair of free throws for the Falcons.
The Rockets return to action on Thursday, Feb. 6 when they travel to Miami. The opening tip against the RedHawks is slated for 7:00 p.m. UT downed MU in the first meeting, 68-52, on Sunday, Jan. 22 at home and will look to sweep the regular-season series.