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University of Toledo women's basketball coach Mark Ehlen may not have time for a Christmas list this year because, after yesterday's 50-49 loss to the University of Detroit in the Rockets' season-opener at Savage Hall, he was too busy with a list of the things his team did wrong.
“Where do you start?” Ehlen said. “Make a list. We didn't do anything well. But the thing that upsets me the most is I didn't feel we competed. Down the stretch, when we needed to make a stop, we'd make the stop and then stand around and watch them get an offensive rebound.”
Ironically, it was something the Rockets did right in the closing 2.8 seconds (deflecting a Titan inbounds pass) that led to UD's win.
That came with UT up 49-48, needing a stop to secure victory, and Detroit inbounding from the baseline toward the lane. The ball was batted to the left wing, where 5-4 Titan junior guard Elizabeth Krzyzek grabbed it and fired a game-winning 14-footer, released just ahead of the final horn.
“I was in the right place at the right time and the ball basically just got tipped to exactly where I was standing,” Krzyzek said. “I picked it up and just thought, ‘This better go in.' I had to go right up with it.”
For Krzyzek (five points), her only field goal was cause to be mobbed by her jubilant teammates. UD also beat UT (70-68) on a last-second shot here Jan. 3, 2001.
Toledo (0-1) took its final lead with 20.7 seconds left when senior forward Julie Hillis notched her only two points of the game on a foul-line jumper, answering UD's go-ahead bucket with 37 seconds to go on a putback by center Nicole Anaejionu, her only points.
The final outcome denied UT - 20-10 last season compared to Detroit's 10-20 - a chance to escape with an ugly win in which the Rockets and Titans evenly divided 54 turnovers and shot 34 and 39 percent, respectively, from the field.
“It was like we'd never seen a basketball game before,” Ehlen said. “I was really disappointed in our effort and our execution was terrible against a team that does not press. Three starters back and we just looked like we had a whole team of freshmen. Ironically, our freshman was kind of our leader out there.”
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The loss spoiled an impressive debut by 5-9 freshman guard Danielle Bishop, a Laingsburg, Mich. product who led UT with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals in 29 minutes.
“Coach has been trying to get me to shoot, and right now I'm still learning,” Bishop said. “I basically know my position on the team right now and I just need to step up when I have to.''
Senior guards Kelly Walker and Mary Blessing added 13 and 9 points, respectively, for the Rockets. UT's 6-3 junior center Karin Hoogendam was ineffective inside, scoring just six points on 1-of-8 shooting and grabbing five rebounds in 33 minutes.
Detroit was led by 5-11 sophomore guard Lindsey Pasquinzo, who hit three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 19 points. Senior forward Lori Wild contributed eight points and 10 rebounds.
The first half was a difficult-to-watch display of disjointed, out-of-sync, early-season basketball in which defensive energy easily disrupted offensive execution.
By the midway point of the half, Toledo led 11-2 despite going 5 of 18 from the field and committing seven turnovers. The Titans were even worse at that point at 1 of 9 from the field and 13 turnovers.
“We had our opportunities, but I felt we lost this game when we had them 11-2 and it should have been worse,” Ehlen said.“ They were rattled and we couldn't convert on their turnovers. We allowed them back in.
“To come out on our home court and play like this is embarrassing and upsetting.”