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Published: Wednesday, 1/6/2010

UT women clear slate as MAC play starts

Cullop Cullop
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The University of Toledo women's basketball team recently wrapped up the preleague portion of its schedule and recorded a school record 10 nonconference wins.

But in coach Tricia Cullop's eyes, with Mid-American Conference play commencing tonight at 7 against Northern Illinois (6-6) at Savage Arena, the slate has been wiped clean.

"We've ended one chapter and now we're beginning anew," Cullop said. "We're 0-0."

The Rockets (10-3) have enjoyed plenty of success since the start of the season, despite spending most of their time away from home over the last month.

UT hasn't played at Savage Arena since a 61-47 win over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne on Dec. 12.

"We're very glad to be back home," Cullop said. "We've traveled an awful lot of miles in the last few weeks."

UT posted a 4-9 record on the road last season but has already eclipsed that win total this year with a 5-2 mark as the visiting team.

"It's important to learn how to win on the road," Cullop said. "We did a pretty good job of taking care of our home court last year, and I think the thing we'd like to do a better job of is winning those road games, because you have to pick up as many road wins as you possibly can in order to be at the top of our league."

In the time away last month, Cullop discovered a promising quality of her team - the ability of several players to step up and carry the Rockets when called upon.

In UT's second-to-last outing, sophomore guard Courtney Ingersoll dropped in a career-high 23 points in a victory at Morehead State on Dec. 29.

Two games before that, sophomore guard Clare Aubry had a team-high 17 points in a win at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

But that's not to say the Rockets aren't getting continued production from their star players.

Senior forward and co-captain Tanika Mays was named MAC West Division player of the week Monday after she averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals in victories over North Dakota and Morehead State.

"I like the fact that we've had a lot of different leading scorers," Cullop said, "because on any given night, someone on our team might have a poor shooting night. It's just nice to know we have so many weapons in our arsenal."

But Cullop hasn't let her players rest on their laurels, despite achieving a greater level of success than any other team in UT history to this point in the season.

The 1996-97 Rockets formerly had the most nonleague wins in school history with nine.

"I think every win gives you a little shot in the arm of confidence," Cullop said. "But I think our team will tell you that everyday we keep pointing out things on film that we've done in each game that we need to work on. We want them to continue to be hungry and improve."

Contact Zach Silka

at: zsilka@theblade.com.

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