Toledo fought tooth and nail with 2013-14 Mid-American Conference West Division champion Central Michigan for 40 minutes on Sunday before 4,007 fans in Savage Arena. UT was in attack mode throughout today's division showdown, but in the end the Chippewas prevailed 80-77. With the tough loss, the Midnight Blue & Gold fall to 13-14 overall, 8-8 in the league.
Senior Janelle Reed-Lewis led four Rockets in double figures with a collegiate-best and game-high 24 points. The Detroit, MI native shot 10-of-20 from the field, including a blistering 4-of-7 from three-point land, to surpass her previous collegiate-best effort of 16 points on two occasions.
Senior Andola Dortch added 15 points with a game-high eight assists, while junior Inma Zanoguera contributed 12 points with nine boards and sophomore Ana Capotosto had 10 points.
UT also received six points and 10 boards from senior Brianna Jones and six points from freshman Janice Monakana in a game that featured seven ties and six lead changes.
As a team, Toledo shot 40.8 percent (29-of-71) from the floor, including 34.8 percent (8-of-23) from beyond the arc, and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from the charity stripe to suffer its third-straight loss.
MAC Player of the Year candidate Crystal Bradford and Taylor Johnson paced the Chippewas (19-9, 15-1 MAC) with 23 points each to help the visitors sweep the regular-season series against Toledo for the first time since 2005-06.
Toledo looked to be in good shape in today's matchup and held a 62-53 lead with 9:22 left in regulation, following a triple by Capotosto.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, there was too much time left on the clock for the high-powered CMU offensive. The Chippewas quickly strung together a 14-2 run to assume a 67-64 advantage at the 4:07 mark. Central Michigan benefitted from treys by Niki DiGuilio, Bradford and Johnson to run a nine-point deficit into a three-point lead.
Following a timeout, UT countered with a jumper by Zanoguera and a three-point field goal from Dortch to momentarily recapture the lead, 69-67, with 3:29 showing on the clock.
CMU proved to have too much firepower down the stretch, though, as Johnson responded with a trey of her own and a jumper, sandwiched in between two free throws by Bradford to shift the margin back in its favor for good, 75-69, with 36 seconds left.
Toledo needed a quick answer to stay within striking distance and Reed-Lewis delivered with her fourth triple to cut the deficit to 75-72, as only four seconds expired off the clock.
Central Michigan then split a pair of free throws on its ensuing possession, while UT's Dortch made both of her attempts at the charity stripe to pull the home team within a pair, 76-74, with 22 seconds remaining.
In the see-saw affair, CMU's DiGuilio buried two free throws, before Toledo's Dortch converted a three-point play to make it a one-point contest, 78-77, with 12 ticks remaining.
DiGuilio was again fouled with 11 seconds left and knocked down a pair at the charity stripe to extend the lead back to three, 80-77. The Rockets had one last chance to tie the game, but Capotosto's three-point attempt just before final buzzer sounded was off the mark.
At the outset, Toledo hit seven of its first 11 shots from the floor to race out to a 17-11 lead at the 13:57 mark. Zanoguera and Reed-Lewis sparked the strong start with six points each.
CMU countered with a mini 6-0 burst to knot the score at 17-17 with 12:05 left in the first half, prompting Toledo to burn a timeout. The big shot for the visitors was a triple by Johnson to draw the teams even for a fifth time.
UT benefitted from the stoppage in play and received a pair of layups and one of two free throws by Monakana to reclaim the advantage, 22-19, at 10:13.
Moments later, freshman Elena de Alfredo and Capotosto each drained a three-point field goal to extend the margin to 28-23 with 7:19 remaining in the opening period.
The Rockets held the lead until CMU's Johnson dialed up another trey to tie the score at 31-31 with 3:36 left before halftime.
UT would once again bounce right back and ended the period with a mini 6-2 burst to create a 37-33 lead at the intermission. Reed-Lewis scored four of the six points to create a two-possession lead at the break.
Toledo's Reed-Lewis remained red-hot shooting the ball to start the second half, knocking down a pair of triples and a short jumper to make the difference 49-41 with 16:05 left in regulation.
The Rockets continued to play with a chip on their shoulder as the second period progressed, utilizing three-point field goals from Reed-Lewis and Capotosto to make the score 62-53, setting the stage for CMU's late-game run to steal the road victory.
Toledo will look to snap its three-game losing skid when it entertains Eastern Michigan in its final regular-season home game on Wednesday, March 5. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. in Savage Arena. Prior to the start of Wednesday's division matchup against the Eagles, the Rockets will honor their four seniors — Mariah Carson, Andola Dortch, Brianna Jones and Janelle Reed-Lewis.