Updated Sat, Feb 15, 2014 11:25 pm
Toledo didn’t need a 21-point comeback to top Ohio this time around, but it did need free throws to overcome a subpar 36.5 percent shooting performance from the field. The Rockets knocked down 21 of 27 free throws en route to a 62-58 victory.
Fouls of all varieties were called on the ‘Cats (8-15, 3-9) throughout the game. Hand-checks, charges and scrappy near-the-hoop baskets put the Rockets (12-11, 7-5) in the bonus before the 11-minute mark of each half. There was a sense of frustration from head coach Bob Boldon and the rest of the Ohio bench.
“Fouling is a bad play, just like getting beat off of the dribble or miscommunicating a screen,” Boldon said.
Free throw attempts kept Toledo in the game down the stretch when the ‘Cats began to heat up from the field.
Turnovers also doomed the Bobcats in the game’s closing minutes. Ohio accumulated a grand total of 21 turnovers, but none more crucial than Queira Lampkins’ giveaway with 40 seconds left to play.
Down three, Lampkins drove to the hoop where she was met by a throng of white jerseys. She attempted to kick back out to Yelle at the top of the key, but the speedy Andola Dortch intercepted the pass and sealed the game.
Before Lampkins’ final turnover, Ohio placed an emphasis on gaining access to the hoop via the baseline. Lampkins, Destini Cooper and Lexie Baldwin each hammered the ball inside along the baseline. The drives resulted in turnovers and broken plays early on, but Ohio did manage to find success later on in the game.
Guard Mariah Byard registered 31 minutes after missing almost a month of action with a left hand injury. The sharpshooter shot 5 of 12 from beyond the arc and led all scorers with 17 points.
“Having her back puts more pressure on the zone and takes pressure off of [Kiyanna Black] and allows her to be more versatile as a shooter,” Boldon said.
On the other side, forward Inma Zanoguera was Toledo’s most efficient shooter, going 4 of 8 from the field in addition to her 10 rebounds. Her quick first step and physicality put Ohio players on their heels.
Four Toledo players reached the double-digit point total, but 21 of their 55 points came from the charity stripe. The Rockets snagged 11 offensive rebounds and created open looks for themselves, but the shots simply would not fall.
While Toledo struggled from the field, Baldwin heated up in the second half. The sophomore outscored the Rockets 8-4 in the half’s opening minutes as she finished with 15 points and nine boards. Boldon applauded Baldwin’s energy level throughout the game.
“I think that was the most energy I’ve seen Lexie play with in a long time,” Boldon said.
It was that energy, according to Boldon, that allowed the ‘Cats to break down Toledo’s 2-3 zone. Their 40-percent shooting performance eclipsed their season average of 35 percent and was the highest single-game shooting percentage since their Jan. 30 matchup against Bowling Green.
Yet, it was again not enough. Ohio has now lost eight straight after winning four of five to start the New Year.