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Published: Monday, 2/9/2009

Mays turns 22, leads UT past Ohio

University of Toledo's Tanika Mays shoots over Ohio's Kamille Buckner. Mays scored 18 points. University of Toledo's Tanika Mays shoots over Ohio's Kamille Buckner. Mays scored 18 points.

Tanika Mays had a highly productive 22nd birthday, leading the University of Toledo women's basketball team in points, rebounds and steals in the Rockets' 60-51 victory over Ohio yesterday.

Coach Tricia Cullop's reaction?

"I hope she has another birthday on Thursday," Cullop said.

UT kept pace in the Mid-American Conference West division race, improving to 13-9 and 7-2 in the league to set up a first-place cross-division showdown at Bowling Green on Thursday.

Mays had 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals in leading the Rockets to a come-from-behind victory at Savage Arena. UT was down eight points early in the second half but went on a double-digit run late to secure the win.

Toledo s Jessica Williams, right, applies the defensive pressure to Ohio s Danielle Woodmore during the second half. Toledo s Jessica Williams, right, applies the defensive pressure to Ohio s Danielle Woodmore during the second half.

"Last game I was having a really bad first half and I think I was overanalyzing," Mays said. "Today I wanted to just go out and play, not even think about it."

Jessica Williams added 12 points and five assists. The Rockets forced 24 Ohio turnovers and scored 24 points off the Bobcats' miscues.

UT got out to a 14-6 lead, but Ohio's 9-0 run overtook the Rockets midway through the first half.

Ohio outrebounded the Rockets and gave them no easy shots in that stretch. The Bobcats (8-13, 4-5) had 12 offensive boards in the first half.

For just the third time all year at home, UT trailed at the half, 21-20. Starting guards Williams and Naama Shafir were a combined 0-of-6 in the period. The Rockets stayed close because Mays had 11 points in the half.

"We were letting Ohio dictate our offense," Mays said.

Ohio took an eight-point lead to start the second half, thanks to Lauren Hmiel making jumpers all over the court for the Bobcats. Hmiel finished with 18 points to lead Ohio.

The Rockets finally grabbed back the momentum when Williams made two 3-pointers.

UT took its first lead of the second half, 40-38, with eight minutes remaining when Shafir made a driving layup and was fouled, hitting the free throw.

Jennifer Bushby responded by making a 3 at the end of the Bobcats' shot clock. The teams traded a few baskets, but UT finally denied Ohio extra shots on offense and started grabbing transition points.

The Rockets broke the the game open with a 12-0 run, Lisa Johnson contributing seven of the points.

"We were able to wear them down," Cullop said. "The last five minutes you saw signs of their shots being short. The difference was we got the rebound in the last five minutes."

For Ohio, point guard Jenny Poff missed the game with flu-like symptoms and previous starting center Chandra Myers recently suffered a knee injury.

"They are known to upset a lot of good teams," Johnson said. "We know that and knew we had to come out and expect the best from them."

UT is tied for first place in the West with Ball State and has more conference wins than last year. Cullop said the team recognizes its position but has to focus on getting better.

"We don't talk about it a whole lot," Cullop said. "The most important thing is we try to be the best we possibly can. Akron reminded us we can't have any of those mental lapses. There are too many good teams in this league.

"We've got to do a good job of staying mentally focused and not having some of those stretches where you can tell we're not talking defensively or executing."

Contact Maureen Fulton at:


or 419-724-6160.

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