Toledo Women's Basketball Loses at Western Michigan in MAC Opener, 84-72

Toledo dropped an 84-72 decision at Western Michigan in Saturday's Mid-American Conference opener in University Arena.

The Midnight Blue & Gold fell behind early against the host Broncos (8-4, 1-0 MAC) and could not recover, ending an 11-game winning streak in the series.

"Even though we spotted them an early lead, I thought we played hard and never gave up," Toledo Head Coach Tricia Cullop said. "I was proud of our team's effort. We could have thrown in the towel early on, but we did not. We kept on fighting for 40 minutes."

Senior Mariella Santucci paced Toledo with a season-high 20 points and a career-best 11 rebounds to post her fifth-collegiate double-double. The 2019-20 team captain also surpassed the 20-point plateau for the fourth time as a Rocket.

Freshman Sophia Wiard added a season-best 12 points off the bench and junior Tanaya Beacham had 10.

As a team, Toledo (5-7, 0-1 MAC) shot 42.6 percent (26-of-61) from the floor, including 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from beyond the arc, and 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the free throw line.

"This was a good lesson for our team," Cullop said. "A good number of them had never played a conference game before. Now they know what to expect over the course of the next two-plus months. We can definitely learn a lot of this game."

Leighah-Amori Wool led Western Michigan (8-4, 1-0 MAC) with a game-high 23 points, followed closely by Jordan Walker with 20. The Broncos also received 15 points and a team-high 11 caroms from Breanna Mobley.

"Western Michigan is a much improved team from a year ago, especially with Walker and Mobley came in their rotation," Cullop said.

FIRST QUARTER
• WMU scored 12 of the first 14 points and led 20-12 after the opening the opening period. The duo of Mobley and Walker did a bulk of the damage at the outset, accounting for 15 of their team's 20 points.

SECOND QUARTER
• The teams traded baskets for a majority of the second stanza, but a late 5-0 WMU burst made the score 32-20 at intermission.

• Freshman Soleil Barnes paced the Rockets with five points in the opening 20 minutes, while Mobley led the home team with a game-high 13.

• Mobley played a big part in helping Western Michigan post a 20-6 edge in points in the paint in the first half.

THIRD QUARTER
• WMU's Wool tallied seven points in the first three-plus minutes in the third period to extend Toledo's deficit to 43-26 at the 4:50 mark. The junior forward was credited with two short jumpers and a trey to force the Rockets to burn a timeout.

• Toledo reeled off six-consecutive points following the stoppage in play on baskets from junior Tatyana Davis, freshman Quinesha Lockett and Beacham to put the score at 51-35 after 30 minutes of competition.

FOURTH QUARTER
• Toledo would not go quietly in the final quarter, receiving treys from junior Nakiah Black, Santucci and Lockett to pull within 11 points, 71-60, at the 1:55 mark.

• Unfortunately for the Rockets, they could not get any closer, as the Broncos made 13 throws over the final 90 seconds to close out the division showdown.

UP NEXT
• Toledo will host MAC East Division leader Buffalo (10-2, 10 MAC) on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The MAC cross-division showdown is slated for 7:00 p.m. in Savage Arena and will be televised on ESPN+.