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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Rockets, Ehlen finish with loss to Eastern Michigan

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Trying to break a six-game losing streak and win Mark Ehlen's last game at Savage Hall, the University of Toledo women's basketball team had two chances in the final 30 seconds to score the go-ahead basket.

In the midst of the four combined timeouts taken by UT and Eastern Michigan with 10.8 seconds to go, Ehlen realized that before the game, he had thought about this very scenario while reminiscing over his tenure.

"I may be wrong about this, but we've never won a game on a last-second shot," Ehlen said. "I'm not sure we've ever had the opportunity. That was going through my mind today, and sure enough, here we are with 10 seconds to go and a chance to make a last-second shot.

"I'm thinking, surely it's going to drop."

But Allie Clifton's elbow jumper didn't drop, and the Rockets lost 58-57 last night. Afterward, Ehlen borrowed a microphone for a moment to address the crowd of 1,608.

"We've had great memories and great teams," he said. "I want to thank you. It's been a wonderful 13 years."

The Rockets dropped to 10-15, 3-10 in the Mid-American Conference, while the Eagles improved to 15-11, 9-5.

Although UT couldn't win its final home game of the year and last ever for Ehlen and five seniors, senior Tamesha Scotton said Ehlen's post-game message was positive.

"He was happy with our overall effort," Scotton said. "The past six games before this one the overall effort wasn't there. We fought hard for 40 minutes."

The difference in the game came when Colleen Russell split a pair of free throws to put the Eagles ahead with 32 seconds left. The Rockets had two chances at the end but could not score, dropping their seventh straight game.

Scotton missed UT's first attempt with 11 seconds left but the Rockets regained possession and then called time out. Then EMU called two timeouts, followed by another by UT.

"We were trying to figure out if they were zone or man," Ehlen said. "We had a play for both and there was a little jockeying around there."

When play finally resumed, the Rockets got the ball to Clifton, whose shot hit off the back of the iron. The ball bobbled around but EMU finally grabbed hold as the final seconds ticked off.

Scotton led the Rockets with 14 points and seven rebounds. Lisa Johnson had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Ta'Yani Clark added 10.

The Rockets made just 8-of-16 free throws for the game and missed two layups in the final four minutes.

"I don't even think the game came down to the last shot," Scotton said. "We had other little possessions that might have hurt us."

UT led by two at the half, 32-30, thanks to Amber Heistan's 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the period. It was the Rockets' first halftime lead since they beat Ball State on Jan. 19.

When Clark made a 3-pointer in the first minute of the game, it marked the first time in 2 1/2 games that the Rockets had a lead at any point in a contest.

The Rockets outrebounded the Eagles and did not allow any second-chance points. They broke out to a seven-point lead five minutes into the second half but EMU whittled it away, with Kelly Watts making some big foul-line jumpers.

"That's the best defensive effort we've had in a long time," Ehlen said. "We played about as hard as we could defensively.

"We just have trouble generating offense, and there you go again."

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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