Toledo's Melantha Herron battles Indiana State's Kourtney Mennen for a rebound last night. The Sycamores trailed 31-14 but tied it at 33 at halftime.
The University of Toledo women's basketball team had not been involved in many close games this season.
And judg-ing strictly by the score of the Rockets' 88-67 victory over Indiana State at Savage Hall last night, you might still think that is the case.
You'd be wrong.
UT's fourth win in five games this season was anything but a romp.
In fact, Kahli Carter carried the Rockets with 23 second-half points, including 14 in a key 10-minute span. She finished with a career-high 29.
The Rockets seemed to be in total control in the early going, blasting out to a 23-7 lead.
Toledo led by 17 until the final six minutes of the half, when the Rockets saw their world turned upside-down.
Indiana State mounted an impressive comeback from a 31-14 deficit as April Kirby sank a 3-pointer that jump-started a 13-point run.
Indiana State outscored the Rockets 19-2 in those final six minutes to tie the score at 33.
“We played well at the beginning of the game, but we lost some focus,” UT coach Mark Ehlen said. “We were back on our heels, and they made a run. I think we got complacent offensively; they started a run and we got passive.”
Early in the second half ISU jumped out to a seven-point advantage before the Rockets used full-court pressure to claw back into the contest.
“When we've played well on offense we've been aggressive, taking the ball to the basket,” Ehlen said. “In the second half our full-court pressure gave us a more aggressive mind-set.”
And no one personified that mind-set more than Carter, who started the comeback with back-to-back baskets around the 14:30 mark, and her 3-pointer with 12:54 left cut the Sycamore lead to 50-49.
After the teams traded baskets the Rockets took the lead for good when Melantha Herron scored on a rebound basket with 10:09 to play.
Then Carter started drawing fouls and making free throws, sinking 10 of 12 in the last 8:47 to fuel the late run. Carter made 14 of 16 for the game.
“Free throws are all about confidence,” said Carter. “If you think you're going to miss you're in trouble. But if you know you're going to make it you will.''
What pleased Ehlen was Carter's willingness to carry the load during the key portion of the contest.
“A lot of (her scoring) was her desire - she wanted the ball with the game on the line,” Ehlen said. “That's want you want your senior to do.”
Courtney Risinger, a native of Terra Haute, Ind. - where Indiana State is located - added 21 points.
Tia Davis finished with 13 and Herron had 10 for the Rockets.
April Kirby led four Sycamores in double figures with 16 points.
UT plays at 6 p.m. Friday against Idaho in the Washington State Cougar Shootout.