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Rockets soar early, move into first-place MAC tie

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Toledo center Karin Hoogendam (21) knocks the ball away from Heather Turner in the second half last night for one of Buffalo's 25 turnovers. Hoogendam scored a game-high 23 points.

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The Toledo women grabbed an early double-digit lead, never trailed and were never really threatened against lowly Buffalo last night.

The Rockets won their third consecutive game and moved into a tie with Bowling Green and Ball State in the Mid-American Conference West Division with an impressive display beyond the arc as they dismantled the Bulls 81-60 in front of 2,233 at Savage Hall.

Toledo (9-9, 5-2) went on a 12-0 run near the midpoint of the first half to essentially seal the contest with only a quarter of the game in the books. Buffalo (3-14, 1-5) missed seven consecutive shots and turned the ball over eight times as the Rockets built a 19-4 lead to start the game.

The Rockets hit 7 of their first 10 3-point attempts, while Buffalo made just 1 of its first 9 from beyond the arc.

"We'll take that every day. That will win a lot of games," said UT coach Mark Ehlen. "Lately, we are shooting better, so that's a good sign."

Toledo took its first double-digit lead (14-4) with 11:38 left in the first half and maintained that cushion for the remainder of the game, sending the Bulls to their fourth consecutive defeat.

Sophomore forward Danielle Bishop hit her first three trey attempts, and freshman guard Kristi Zeller connected on both of hers in the first half to help Toledo take a 39-23 advantage into the break.

"I think we knew we had to come out strong and get a big lead on them," said Bishop, who finished with 17 points. "We had to play hard and execute our offense. We needed to continue to execute so they wouldn't come back."

Center Karin Hoogendam helped ensure that a comeback would not be in the cards when she scored six straight points in the paint early in the second half and grabbed two of her eight rebounds to give the Rockets a 54-33 lead with 13 minutes left. Hoogendam scored 10 of her game-high 23 points over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Overall, the 6-3 senior hit 7 of 8 free throws and was 8-of-15 from the field.

"It looks good for us," Hoogendam said. "Our offense is really coming together."

Nine of the 10 players on the Toledo roster scored at least one point. Junior guard Crystal Young tallied 11 points and Zeller contributed 10. It was the first time this season that UT had four players score in double figures.

"I'm happy that we had a lot of people score for us," Ehlen said. "We had 28 points off the bench."

Overall, Toledo hit 25 of 52 field goals (48.1 percent), including 8 of 14 3-point attempts (a season-high 57.1 percent). The 81 points the Rockets scored tied their season high.

"When we started hitting them, we got more confidence," Young said.

"Coach has been stressing to me to shoot more early on and it was open."

Buffalo, which was led by freshman Flynn Pyykkonen's 22 points, committed 21 turnovers that led to 25 UT points. Toledo turned the ball over 12 times that turned into 14 points.

The Bulls shots just 38.5 percent from the floor, and Toledo held their two leading scorers to eight total points.

NOTES: UT won its third consecutive game for the first time this season. .●.●. Hoogendam scored over 20 points for the sixth time this season. .●.●. Toledo came into the game averaging only 5.29 3s per game.

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