Toldeo defeats women’s hoops 72-62

By Jimmy Johnson

While Toledo’s Andola Dortch earned MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, it turned out to be her offense that keyed the Rockets’ 72-62 victory over NIU women’s basketball Thursday.

Dortch, a Second Team-All MAC member, poured in a game-high 24 points along with eight assists to knock the Huskies out in the quarterfinals of the MAC Championship Tournament.

“She put us on her back tonight,” said Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop in a post-game interview. “We weren’t executing offensively…I’m really proud of her.”

The No. 3 seeded Rockets will play the No. 2 seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles in the second semifinal game tomorrow at 2:30. The winner of the Rockets-Eagles game will play the winner of the Bowling Green-Central Michigan matchup for the MAC Championship.

In the first half, NIU (15-17, 7-10 MAC) held its largest lead at 33-24 with 6:18 left. From there, the Rockets (21-8, 13-3) went on a 15-3 run heading into halftime. After Toledo’s resurgence, it held the lead from that point on.

“In the second half, obviously, we picked it up,” Dortch said in an online post-game interview. “We played Toledo basketball and calmed ourselves down.”

NIU and Toledo’s final team stats nearly mirrored each other. The Huskies had 23 field goals made, while the Rockets connected on 24.

However, the free throw line turned out be a significant factor as Toledo had almost double the amount attempts compared to the Huskies (24-11). The Rockets converted on 19 of their 24 attempts, while NIU went 10 for 11.

After shooting 57.7 percent in the first half, the Huskies scoring hit a drought as they shot 25 percent in the second. With 15:36 left to play, Toledo went on a 12-0 run and the Huskies went 11 minutes without scoring a point. Natecia Augusta’s free throws ended NIU’s drought at 6:45 left to play.

NIU was paced by senior forward Kim Davis’ 14 points. Freshman guard Amanda Corral chipped in 13 points and senior Courtney Shelton added 11 points of her own. Shelton scored 9 of the Huskies’ first 15 points, nailing three of four attempts from the three-point mark.

Corral started off with a hot-hand in the first half going four for four from the field with 10 points, yet scored three points in the second half.