TOLEDO – Toledo knocked Buffalo from the ranks of the Mid-American Conference unbeatens with a 59-44 victory on Saturday before a season-high 4,339 fans in Savage Arena. With the double-digit win, the Rockets improve to 15-2 on the season, 3-1 in the league.
Junior Andola Dortch paced the three-time reigning MAC West Division champions with a game-high 20 points and six rebounds. Dortch shot 7-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-9 from beyond the arc, and 3-of-5 from the charity stripe to tally at least 20 points for the seventh time in her collegiate career.
Joining Dortch in double figures was junior Brianna Jones with 10 points off the bench. Jones helped the Midnight Blue & Gold control the interior and shot 4-of-6 from the floor and 2-of-3 from the free throw line to register double digits for the second time this season.
UT also received solid efforts from sophomore Inma Zanoguera (9 pts., 4 rebs., 3 asts., 3 stls.), senior Yolanda Richardson (8 pts., 8 rebs.), senior Naama Shafir (8 pts., 4 rebs., 3 asts., 3 stls.) and senior Lecretia Smith (4 pts., team-high 9 rebs., career-high 6 asts., 3 stls.) to improve to 8-0 all-time against the Bulls (5-13, 3-1 MAC) at home.
The Rockets shot 32.9 percent (23-of-70) from the field, including 24.0 percent (6-of-25) from three-point range, and 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from the free throw line to claim their 15th-consecutive victory against a cross-division opponent.
Toledo also finished with a 45-41 edge on the glass, including a season-high 23 offensive caroms. The 2012-13 preseason MAC favorites were able to take full advantage of those offensive boards and posted a decisive 22-8 edge in second-chance points. Richardson was a one-person wrecking crew on the offensive glass and totaled eight rebounds.
Buffalo was limited to 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the floor and 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from the free throw line to snap its season-high three-game win streak.
Shafir and Dortch helped the Rockets race out to a quick start, lifting them to an 11-5 lead at the 17:20 mark. Shafir started the game with a traditional three-point play and a triple to account for six of the 11 points, while Dortch delivered the others with a trey of her own and a jumper to give the home squad an early two-possession advantage.
With the outside game clicking, UT pounded the ball inside and received back-to-back layups from Richardson and another from Smith to push its margin to double digits, 19-9, with 10:26 left in the opening period.
Unfortunately for Toledo, the offense would stall for the remainder of the half. UT mustered only nine points over the final nine-plus minutes and had its lead trimmed to 28-26 at the intermission.
With Toledo's offense having gone cold, the Bulls started to find the range and outscored its opponent, 17-9, during the waning moments to make it a one-possession difference at the break. Five different Buffalo players contributed points in the run, including Mackenzie Loesing with a team-high five points. The visitors also took advantage of back-to-back triples from Kristen Sharkey and Cherridy Thornton, as well as a pair of pair of free throws from Loesing to claim its only lead of the contest, 26-25, with 1:33 remaining in the period.
Toledo would be able to respond though with a clutch three-point field goal by Zanoguera to put the lead back in its favor, 28-26, at halftime. It proved to be an advantage the Rockets would not relinquish.
UT began the second half strong and utilized a mini 12-7 burst to open up a 40-33 lead with 14:17 left in regulation. Dortch contributed a pair of triples to ignite the rally and create some separation.
The Rockets' maintained a three-possession bulge for the next almost nine minutes before Jones converted a traditional three-point play to increase the difference to 49-39 with 5:32 left in the game.
Jones' basket seemed to take the air out of the sails of UB and started a 13-5 run to end the contest, making the final score 59-44. Dortch put the final dagger in the victory, accounting for seven of the 13 points in the final burst to give Toledo its sixth-straight triumph over the Bulls.
Toledo will look to keep its momentum rolling when it travels to Akron on Wednesday, Jan. 23 to battle the MAC East Division frontrunning Zips. The opening tip from James A. Rhodes Arena is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.