Toledo (29-3) will entertain Big Ten member Illinois (18-13) in the ‘Sweet 16' of the WNIT on Thursday, March 28 in Savage Arena. The opening tip is slated for 7:00 p.m.
The Rockets are in the midst of a nine-game home win streak and sport a 15-1 (.938) mark in Savage Arena this season. In four-plus years under head coach Tricia Cullop, UT is 72-9 (.889) on its home court, including 35-6 (.854) against non-league opponents.
The 2012-13 Mid-American Conference regular-season champions advanced to the third round for a third consecutive season with victories against Butler, 63-49, last Thursday and Youngstown State, 61-43, on Saturday.
Sophomore Inma Zanoguera paced the 2011 WNIT champions with a career-high 24 points against the Penguins, drilling a collegiate-tying best three triples.
Zanoguera and the Rockets controlled the interior against their intrastate foe and finished with a 34-10 edge in points in the paint. The Midnight Blue & Gold also maintained a sizable 48-31 advantage on the boards, winning the battle on the glass for a 14th-consecutive contest.
Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown led the Penguins with 10 points and four caroms, but UT's strong defensive effort forced her into a 3-of-13 shooting performance. Brown came into the game averaging 20.4 ppg and 11.3 rpg.
Toledo was tenacious on defense all game and limited YSU to its second-lowest offensive output of the season. The Horizon League member Penguins shot a season-low 25.0 percent (13-of-52) from the field and were guilty of 22 turnovers.
All-league performers senior Naama Shafir, junior Andola Dortch, Zanoguera and senior Yolanda Richardson lead Toledo offensively, scoring 12.9, 10.7, 10.1 and 9.4 points per game, respectively. Zanoguera is also tallying a squad-best 20.0 ppg in the postseason, shooting 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from beyond the arc.
The Fighting Illini qualified for Thursday's contest by virtue of their wins against MAC member Miami, 73-60, on Thursday and Eastern Illinois, 62-54, this evening.
Illinois finished with a 9-7 mark in the Big Ten and features a high-powered attack with four players scoring in double digits led by first-team all-conference honoree Karisma Penn's 19.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.2 bpg and 2.8 spg.
The Fighting Illini are 7-6 away from home this season and are making their eighth all-time appearance in the WNIT.
Toledo and Illinois will be meeting for the first time.
The winner of Thursday's contest will take on the winner of MAC member Ball State and Kansas State. Sites and times for the ‘Elite Eight' round will be released at a later date.
Tickets for Thursday's game will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. Tickets are $15.00 for reserved seats (all seats in the lower bowl) and $12.00 for general admission (all seats in the upper east sections). Tickets for children 12 and under are $7.50 for reserved seats and $6 for general admission. UT faculty and staff may purchase two WNIT tickets at half price.
Elite season-ticket holders' seat locations will be held until 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. After that, those seats will go on sale to the general public.
UT students will be admitted free, courtesy of the UT President's Office. UT students must show their Rocket ID at the gate to gain admittance. UT students attending the game will also be eligible to win one of six great prizes to be given away throughout the game, courtesy of head coach Tricia Cullop:
- $25 gift card to the Rocket shop (two winners)
- $50 cash (three winners)
- Grand prize of a free I-Pad Mini.
Tickets may be purchased at the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena or by phone at 419-530-GOLD (4653). General admission tickets and reserved section 101 tickets may be purchased online, beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, at utrockets.com.
Parking for all WNIT games at Savage Arena is free and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, the Joe Grogan Room will be open to Rocket Fund donors.