For 25 minutes last night the Toledo women's basketball team seemed determined to bury its chances to win its final regular-season game at Savage Hall.
For roughly 10 minutes after that the Rockets furiously fought their way back against Northern Illinois, eventually rebounding from a 12-point second-half deficit to lead by one with 3:33 to play.
But once UT had reached the summit, it didn't seem to have any gas left in its tank and suffered a crippling 59-52 loss to the Huskies.
"You get to that point where you get back into the game, and you just don't have quite enough to make one more push," Toledo coach Mark Ehlen said.
The loss, Toledo's third in a row and sixth in the last seven games, means the Rockets will play a road to open the MAC tournament for the first time since 1988. That may not be such a bad thing, considering UT finished 2-6 in league games at Savage Hall this season.
Senior Amanda Davis came off the bench to lead the Rockets with a career-high 13 points. Savannah Werner added 11 for Toledo, which fell to 9-15 overall and 4-10 in the MAC.
"I was proud of Amanda Davis," Ehlen said. "Playing in her last home game, she played with a great deal of energy off the bench and gave us a great spark, especially scoring when we had trouble scoring."
Whitney Lowe scored 15 points, thanks in large part to four 3-pointers, to lead all scorers for Northern Illinois (11-14, 7-7).
Midway through the first half the Rockets went nearly seven minutes without a basket by missing nine shots, including five from behind the 3-point arc. As a result, Toledo went into the half trailing 29-21.
"It was a game where we struggled to find any offensive rhythm," Ehlen said. "In the second half our defense gave us some things, and we were able to generate a little bit of offense to get back in the game."
Davis sparked the Rockets' comeback with a pair of baskets that ignited a 9-0 run and cut the Huskies' lead to 40-37 with 9:47 left.
"We were just playing with heart and playing with all we could," Davis said. "But late in the season you've got to run on fumes just to get back into it. We did a really good job of getting back into the game. We just needed a couple more stops to put us over the top."
UT actually led 48-47 after Crystal Young forced a turnover, then broke ahead of the pack for a layup with 3:51 to play. But Raymond scored seven of the game's final 16 points to keep Toledo at bay.
In the contest the Rockets shot just 34.5 percent from the field and made only 3-of-21 3-point shots (14.3 percent).
"We wanted to attack the high-post area, but I thought we shot a lot of quick 3s, especially early in the game," Ehlen said. "We didn't get it inside on them like we wanted to. I thought in the second half we did a little bit better job of doing that.
"But we're just not shooting the ball very well right now. We scored 52 points, and that's the highest we've scored in three games. You're not going to win many games averaging just 50 points per game."
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