Sitting out the final game of her four-game suspension, Tamesha Scotton saw her University of Toledo teammates playing some "horrible" basketball on Tuesday.
The Rockets clearly needed Scotton back on the court as a freefall down the Mid-American Conference standings appeared imminent.
Last night, with Scotton back in uniform, the Rockets no longer looked like a pushover in the MAC.
Instead they bullied the team picked to win the league, downing Ball State 72-66 in what must be considered a fairly big upset.
Scotton scored a game-high 17 points in 29 minutes off the bench, helping the Rockets (9-7, 2-2) move past an ugly 70-57 loss to Western Michigan.
"Tuesday's game was just horrible," Scotton said. "We just knew from there on out we had to start pushing each other in practice so something like Tuesday's game didn't happen again."
Without Scott the Rockets went just 1-3. Compounding their problems was a foot injury to leading scorer Allie Clifton, who missed her third game last night. Without its two best players UT was a mess.
But with one of them back the Rockets played perhaps as well as they have all season.
"Thank God we got T back today because she was a huge contributor," Lisa Johnson said.
Johnson was also a major contributor, tying her career high in points (14) and blocks (four).
Johnson also grabbed 11 rebounds, marking the second double-double of her career.
"She looked like a basketball player today," UT coach Mark Ehlen said. "She rebounded well, she defended well and she shot well. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for her."
Nacole Stocks tied a season high with 11 points but more importantly she played strong defense against Ball State's leading scorer, Porchia Green, who had 12 points but produced little until the final minutes.
Green and Audrey McDonald made consecutive 3-pointers and Green followed with a break-away layup to cut UT's lead to three points with 3:13 remaining.
Following two free throws by Toledo's Ta'Yani Clark, Green hit another 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 1:41 left.
But the Cardinals (7-10, 3-1) managed just one more basket, and it didn't come until a second left.
Olivia Terry hit a crucial jumper to put UT up by four points with 45 seconds left and Clark (12 points) made all six of her free throws down the stretch. The Rockets, who are second from the bottom in the MAC in free throw percentage, made 18 of 22 from the line last night.
"If you look at our early-season free throw percentages and you look at what we've done in the MAC, we're a different team there," Ehlen said.
And UT is clearly a different team with Scotton on the court. The Rockets scored 38 points in the paint last night, a significant improvement from the 10 they had against Western.
"I definitely feel like we played an all-around team game for 40 solid minutes," Scotton said. "We said from here on out the season starts now. No more mishaps."
The Rockets will travel to Northern Illinois on Wednesday.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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