Toledo Storms Back To Top Ohio

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The first 23 minutes of Sunday’s Ohio-Toledo matchup foreshadowed the end of Ohio’s two-game losing streak. The final 17 minutes proved otherwise.

Mental miscues from Ohio (8-10, 3-4), combined with hot second-half shooting from Toledo (9-9, 4-3) lead to a 45-26 second half for the Rockets and a 64-62 win.

It was a tale of two halves for each team. The first half saw little productivity down low, forcing poor outside shots and disrupting any offensive flow. Toledo shot a dismal 21 percent from the floor and accumulated 12 turnovers to Ohio’s four.

Ohio quickly cracked Toledo’s 2-3 trap, earning open looks near the hoop and kicking out to shooters along the perimeter. Hannah Boesinger sank two 3-pointers en route to a 10-point first half performance, leading all scorers.

For much of the half, Toledo placed its forwards out on the perimeter, creating mismatches with speedy guards. Ohio’s ability to get to the second level of the defense opened up a variety of different opportunities for shots.

The team as a whole shot 49 percent from the field and were brimming with confidence after building a 36-19 halftime lead. On the other side, Toledo looked fatigued and frustrated, unable to generate any flow on either end.

Ohio’s lead ballooned to 21 points with 17 minutes left to go in the second half, but Ohio’s joy was short-lived. Toledo began to make a living near the hoop, forcing Ohio to pick up fouls in the paint. Combine that with contributions from beyond the arc from guards Ana Capotosto and Janelle Reed-Lewis and a 21-4 Toledo run ensued. Toledo shrunk the lead to 45-41 before two Kiyanna Black 3-pointers ended the run.

With a ten-point lead, Black and Ohio head coach Bob Boldon noted that it came down to making defensive stops to close out the game. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, Toledo’s aggression lead to fouls and the Rockets capitalized on their opportunities from the line. Toledo 11-14 from the charity stripe in the second half.

Ohio head coach Bob Boldon did not want to cite the team’s youth as the primary reason for the team’s collapse, but did not rule it out as a possibility either.

“We’ve never been up 17 against a ‘good’ team, so that’s a new area to deal with,” Boldon said. “A lot of it comes down to an inability to guard effectively.”

The Rockets switched their defense periodically throughout the second half, switching to man-to-man for the beginning portion of the half and eventually installing a 3-2 trap zone to finish the game. Ohio struggled to run plays against the zone and were forced to run isolation plays.

Boesinger cooled off significantly in the final 20 minutes. The freshman did not attempt a field goal or free throw, grab a rebound or dish an assist. Boldon noted that Toledo’s offense lost Boesinger consistently in the first half, but that the Rockets keyed in on her in the second half, essentially eliminating her from the game.

More than anything, mental mistakes derailed Ohio’s offense. Nine second half turnovers and multiple traveling violations halted any offensive momentum.

Toledo eventually took the lead 58-56 with two minutes left, but a pair of Quiera Lampkins free throws tied the score at 58. Toledo responded with a rainbow-arc three from Capotosto and never relinquished the lead.

Ohio fought back to close the gap to 64-62 with 0.8 to go and forced the Toledo inbound pass to go out off of a Toledo player. The ensuing inbound pass to Lexie Baldwin yielded a forced tip-in and the game was over.

The open opportunities that Ohio did create simply did not want to go in. Several 3-point attempts rolled around the hoop for a split-second before bouncing into the hands of a rebounder. Throughout the game, Toledo, who averages 15 offensive boards per game, faced a similar problem, but earned second-chance points via 14 offensive rebounds.

Outside of winning the points-off-turnovers battle 33-8, Boldon was unable to think of any positives to take away from the game after a lengthy pause to ponder the question. He said that the focus has shifted to game planning for the next game.

Things won’t get any easier for the ‘Cats when they welcome the surging Bowling Green Falcons (16-3, 6-1) on Thursday.