For the second straight game the Toledo Rockets came out firing in the first half only to fall apart after the break. Fortunately for the Toledo faithful that managed to make it to Savage Arena this morning, the Northern Illinois Huskies fell just short of taking advantage of Toledo's second half collapse and the Rockets won 73-71.
Toledo had a 40-26 lead at the half and looked to be in total control of this one. They shot 17-30 (56.7%) during the opening half and their defense held Illinois in check. Things were decidedly different after halftime. The Rockets went cold from the floor, shooting 5-17 (29.4%), over the course of the game's final 20 minutes. Toledo's saving grace came from the free throw line. The first half saw both teams shoot a total of 9 foul shots but in the second half the whistle never stopped blowing. Toledo shot 23-27 (85.2%) from the line after halftime and it kept them in the game.
The Rockets held a lead 69-60 with 3:30 left and then the Huskies came storming back. A jumper and free throw by Toledo senior Andola Dortch put the Rockets up 73-68 with 57 seconds remaining but NIU's Natecia Augusta came down to the other end and scored a three point play of her own. A missed shot attempt by Janelle Reed-Lewis on the ensuing possession led to a Huskies run out but Danny Pulliam's layup rolled out and UT snuck out with the win.
Amanda Corral led all scorers with 20 points and 4 rebounds. Augusta and Pulliam both finished with 13 points and Pulliam added in 7 assists. Ally Lehman was NIU's other double digit scorer with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
For Toledo, Dortch finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds and a game high 8 assists. Inma Zanoguera had 14 points and 5 rebounds and senior center Brianna Jones ended the game with 12 points and 5 rebounds of her own. Freshman Janice Monakana scored 5 points and had a game high 7 rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
Toledo's next game is home on Sunday, January 12th, at 2:00 PM against Miami. It will be the Rockets third game in nine days to open MAC play.