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Published: Thursday, 2/9/2006

UT's dominance over Akron ends

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

We pause now for a moment of silence, if not for the University of Toledo's women then certainly for the passing of one of college basketball's most one-sided streaks.

The Rockets lost to Akron 69-66 last night at Savage Hall.

Such a thing had happened exactly zero times in the past quarter century.

The Zips last beat Toledo in December of 1980. Their last win at Savage Hall was during the 1975-76 season.

The previous 30 meetings? Toledo 30, Akron 0.

No more. And this happened with the Zips winless in the Mid-American Conference, in the throes of a nine-game losing streak, and a meager 3-17 overall.

Is this rock bottom for the once-powerful Rockets, now 8-12 and staring at a third straight losing season?

"That's pretty much what I just told the team," UT coach Mark Ehlen said. "We've reached the bottom. I hate to say that because I don't want to diminish Akron's performance. But I feel strongly about our tradition and we're letting that tradition down big time."

UT lost its third straight and dropped to 3-7 in the MAC. But the Rockets were coming off a solid effort in a six-point loss to a tough Bowling Green team.

"We play a game like the one against BG and I think, 'Hey, maybe we're on the right track.' But I just can't figure this team out. To give up the kind of shots we did in the first half is a lack of intensity, but worse, it's a lack of pride," Ehlen said.

Akron made 17 of 25 field goals in the first half (.680) and led by as many as 17 points before settling for a 42-27 halftime lead. That was 42 points by a team that came in averaging 55.7 points per game.

Either UT was going to mount a stirring comeback or suffer a humiliating defeat.

It turned out to be a bit of each.

The Rockets stormed out of the halftime gate and were within 51-50 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.

From then until the final buzzer, UT had a dozen possessions on which it could have taken the lead. It never happened.

Akron withstood the rally and converted nine of 10 free throws in the final 2:00 to salt away the win. Courtney Stewart paced the Zips with 19 points.

Danielle Bishop led UT with 19 points while Crystal Young added 14 points and a career-high nine assists.

"It's my team, so I have to take the blame," Ehlen said. "But, honestly, I'm at my wits' end on how to get this team to play 40 minutes.

"A lot of people want to participate but not a lot are competing. That's the problem. That's my problem."

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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