‘Cats Look To Ground Rockets

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Following two sub-average performances from beyond the arc, Ohio (8-9, 3-3) welcomes a physical Toledo (8-9, 3-3) team on Sunday that does not fear playing near the hoop.

The Rockets surged past Ball State 73-61 on Thursday – the same Ball State squad that lit up the scoreboard from beyond the arc and pounded the ball inside against Ohio in a dominating 79-63 victory. While the Cardinals shot 72 percent from downtown against the ‘Cats, Toledo’s high-pressure defensive scheme limited the Cardinals to 24 percent shooting.

Subduing the Rockets can be made possible by controlling the glass on both ends, but especially on the offensive end. Toledo is averaging 15 offensive boards a game, creating more shot opportunities and wearing down opposing defenses. The Rockets have attempted more 2-point field goals, free throws and 3-point field goals than their opponents.

In addition to the second-chance looks, Toledo has taken care of the ball on a consistent basis. The Rockets average less than 13 turnovers per contest, while forcing opponents to cough up the ball over 17 times per game.

Through 17 games, the ‘Cats hold a +2.9 turnover margin, but establishing a fast pace will be vital against Toledo. Ohio struggled against teams like Ball State and Akron whose half-court offensive sets exposed Ohio’s defensive deficiency down low.

To contain forwards Ana Capotosto, Brianna Jones and Inma Zanoguera, all of whom are averaging 10-plus points per game, double-teaming and traps may be a viable option. Funneling Toledo’s offense to the 3-point line, where it only shoots 26 percent, would bust any offensive rhythm and force unwanted shots.

The good news for Ohio is that Toledo’s opponents have shot 34 percent from downtown. Ohio’s motion offense calls for a hefty amount of 3-pointers over the course of an average game, but look for even more importance to be placed on the 3-ball.

Two uniquely built teams will enter the Convocation Center on Sunday with one thing in common, poor free-throw shooting. Both squads are shooting less than 70 percent from the charity stripe. However, the ‘Cats did have an impressive performance from the line against Akron, knocking down 24 of 28 attempts.

In a game where pace will be crucial, it could be the uncontested shots that make the difference.