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HomeSportsUT
Published: 2/26/2004

Balanced Rockets blast Akron

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

It didn t take long to find out how the University of Toledo women would fare against an Akron team that had dropped three straight Mid-American Conference contests and had won only twice during MAC play all season.

Kelly Walker, a 5-9 senior, playing in her final regular-season game at Savage Hall, drained a wide-open 3-pointer within the first 11 seconds. A few moments later, senior Julie Hillis knocked down a shot in her finale to give the Rockets a 5-0 lead.

A short time later the Rockets were ahead 15-1 and well on their way to an 81-59 destruction of the Zips before a crowd of 2,325 fans.

UT seniors Walker, Hillis and Mary Blessing - honored prior to the start of the game - combined for 30 points in a game the Rockets (12-13, 8-6) led by double-digits most of the night.

Blessing finished with a team-high and season-high 15 points on a 4-for-5 shooting night while Walker came through with 13 points in the Rockets 27th straight victory over the Zips (7-18, 2-12).

Hillis, who has been bothered by a foot injury, only played during the first five minutes of the game and scored two points.

Danielle Bishop pumped in 14 points and Karin Hoogendam contributed 11 and a career-high five assists for the Rockets, who shot 50 percent (29 of 58) for only the second time this season.

“I think the difference in the game was our start,” UT coach Mark Ehlen said. “We came out ready to play. I think all three seniors did something to start the game that helped us get going.”

Blessing s first basket of the night was a 3-pointer with 13:14 remaining in the first half that gave the Rockets a 20-6 edge. The 5-8 guard would go on to knock down a couple more shots along with making 4-of-5 foul shots in the half to end up in double figures before halftime.

The Rockets, insured themselves of securing a first-round home game for the MAC Tournament on March 6 at Savage Hall.

“It s a step in the right direction for us,” Ehlen said. “We were able to solidify home court for the tournament.”



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