The Toledo Rockets and the Eastern Michigan Eagles met at Savage Arena today and put on one of the most brutal offensive efforts of the season. Toledo came into the game needing to win just one of their remaining two contests to lock up the MAC regular season title and clinch the #1 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament. The Rockets did their best to blow it with poor shooting but, thankfully for them, Eastern Michigan proved to be just as offensively inept and Toledo escaped with a 48-38 win.
Both teams finished the game shooting 26.2% from the floor. Toledo went 55% from the free throw line on 11 for 20 shooting and 26.3% from behind the three point arc with a 5 for 19 display. Toledo continues to struggle against zone defenses and when shots aren't falling fans get subjected to a performance like the one 4,557 were a witness to this afternoon.
Naama Shafir drew early foul trouble in the first half and Eastern turned an already boring game into a real snoozer by running a clock stalling, slow moving offense to try and keep the game close and take advantage of the Rockets' poor offense. Lecretia Smith scored eight points in the first half and Inma Zanoguera contributed with seven of her own to help Toledo put on a late first half push and go to the break up 27 to 18.
Desyree Thomas did her best to get the Eagles back into the game. She put up 10 points in the second half and finished the game with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists to dominate the boxscore for Eastern Michigan. Unfortunately, the rest of her EMU teammates just weren't up to the task at hand and Toledo's lead was never smaller than five points in the second half.
Zanoguera built on her first half play and finished the game leading all Rocket scorers with 14 points to go along with five rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Shafir, normally the team's most prolific scoring threat, was kept in check with four total points on 1 for 7 shooting. Smith was the only other UT player in double figures today in a game the Rockets are surely in a hurry to move on from and forget. With the win, their 14th in a row, Toledo improves their season mark to 26-2 (14-1 in the MAC). Eastern Michigan falls to 8-20 (6-9 in the MAC)
Next up for Toledo is a 7 PM home start against Ball State this Wednesday, March 6th. This game will be the last home game for seniors Shafir, Smith, Yolanda Richardson, Riley McCormick and Kyle Baumgartner. A win means Toledo caps off one of the most dominating regular seasons in memory. A loss and any chance the Rockets have at a Top 25 ranking, and most likely an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, are put in serious jeopardy.