TOLEDO - Toledo (12-1) commences its 32nd Mid-American Conference campaign as well as defense of three-consecutive West Division titles vs. Central Michigan (6-7) on Thursday, Jan. 10. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on SportsTime Ohio (STO) and ESPN3 with Mike Cairns providing the play-by-play and Jacki Windon serving as the analyst.
The Rockets have been picked to finish first in the ultra-competitive MAC West Division, while the Chippewas are tabbed to finish second.
Toledo is a perfect 6-0 this season and an impressive 63-8 (.887) wearing its home white uniforms under fifth-year head coach Tricia Cullop, including 30-2 (.938) against conference foes.
UT begins MAC play in the midst of an 11-game win streak, sixth-longest unbeaten stretch in school history, and has equaled its best start in Toledo annals. The Midnight Blue & Gold also started out a season winning 12 of its first 13 games during the 1993-94 campaign.
The Rockets are coming off a pair of victories against Charlotte, 76-66, and host Georgia State, 46-43, at the GSU Holiday & Hoops Tournament on Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 29-30 to capture an unprecedented fourth tourney crown this season.
Sophomore Inma Zanoguera and senior Yolanda Richardson received all-tournament team honors for their efforts in the two wins. Zanoguera, who was also selected tourney MVP, averaged 8.5 points, a team-high 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals, while Richardson tallied a team-high 14.0 points and 5.0 caroms per contest.
For the season, the Rockets are fueled offensively by the quartet of senior Naama Shafir, junior Andola Dortch, Richardson and Zanoguera, who are averaging 12.8, 10.8, 9.8 and 8.4 ppg, respectively. In total, UT has six players averaging at least 5.6 points per game.
UT will face an athletic CMU squad which has dropped three of its last four contests, including a 78-74 home setback to Marquette on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Crystal Bradford led the Chippewas with 21 points and eight caroms.
Central Michigan features a high-octane attack with three players scoring in double digits paced by Bradford's 13.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.8 bpg in 26.2 mpg. The Chippewas are 3-5 away from home in 2012-13.
Toledo leads the series against Central Michigan, 42-26, and won both contests last season, 58-53 at home (Jan. 8) and 80-62 on the road (Feb. 15), to sweep the regular-season series for the fourth time in the last six years.
Following Thursday's conference opener, the Rockets will travel to Bowling Green on Sunday, Jan. 13. The opening tip from the Stroh Center is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and will be also televised on STO.