Toledo's Danielle Bishop plays tough defense against Western Michigan's Tiera DeLaHoussaye at Savage Hall.
Danielle Bishop spent parts of her final night at Savage Hall on the glossy maple deck, scrapping for loose basketballs or tying up opponents.
For most of two hours, she pounded up and down that hardwood, sprinting out on the fast break or rushing back on defense.
The University of Toledo senior played her last home game with the same verve, the same vigor that has characterized her UT career.
Bishop, who scored 16 points to lead her team in last night's 74-66 win over Western Michigan, is going out in much the same fashion that she came in - as a reliable scorer.
As Western Michigan pressed the issue in the closing minutes, Bishop drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give Toledo a 10-point advantage with 1:42 to play. She then knocked down four free throws in the final 30 seconds to put the Broncos away.
"That's what we want," Toledo coach Mark Ehlen said about having Bishop, a career 74 percent free throw shooter, at the line when it really counted. "Danielle had a very good second half, and she did what you want a senior to do."
The Rockets trailed 33-32 entering the second half, and after Western Michigan opened up a four-point advantage, Bishop hit a deep 3-pointer from the wing to cut the lead to a point, and then she put the Rockets on top a few seconds later with a fast-break basket.
The advantage bounced back and forth until Western's last lead came with 8:45 to play, when the Broncos were up 53-51.
Toledo then used a 19-7 run, capped by Bishop's triple from the corner, to build a 70-60 advantage with less than two minutes remaining.
Western tried to work the ball to senior Carrie Moore, who leads the nation in scoring, averaging 25.2 points per game coming into last night's contest. Moore finished with 29 points, but the Rockets (10-18, 6-10) made life tough for her, limiting her to 11 second-half points.
It was also critical for Toledo to get Bishop to the line, so she could preserve a second straight win heading into Sunday's opening round game of the MAC tournament in Cleveland against Buffalo.
"I went up to the line with confidence that I can make them," Bishop said. "We had a good run on, and I needed to step up."
Besides having the distinction of nearing the finish of her career ranked in the top 10 at Toledo in eight offensive categories, Bishop is likely the best multisurface player the women's program has ever seen.
Coming from tiny Laingsburg Christian school in Michigan, Bishop played on a tile floor on her home court, and on carpet-covered basketball courts at several of the opposition sites that her team visited.
"It was a lot different, and I knew I'd have to make a big adjustment when I came here," said Bishop, who averaged 39 points, 17 rebounds, seven steals and five blocks per game as a senior at Laingsburg. There were just 17 students in the junior high and high school at Laingsburg Christian.
"I had the ball most of the time, and I scored a lot, so when I came to Toledo I guess I expected the worst as far as the adjustment," Bishop said.
At Laingsburg, Bishop had a 71-point game as a junior, when she averaged 40 points per game. She finished her high school career with 2,844 points and led her team to four straight Michigan Association of Christian Schools championships.
But Ehlen was not concerned about how Bishop would fit in with the Rockets, since he had seen her play AAU basketball.
"I knew she would adjust, and she's been just fine," Ehlen said.
Ehlen said it would have been nice to give Bishop and fellow senior Savannah Werner a curtain call, but the game was too close.
"We always tend to make things interesting," Ehlen said. "But this is a real satisfying win for this program. After floundering like we did for a while, we wanted these last two games at home, and now we're going into the conference tournament on a little bit of a roll, and that's what you want."
- Matt Markey