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University of Toledo battles for 12th win


Toledo's Tanika Mays fends off Central Michigan's Kaihla Szunko on the way to the hoop yesterday. Mays has been recovering from the flu, but she still finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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The flu bug has been ravaging the University of Toledo women's basketball team for more than a week now, but it hasn't slowed them down on the court.

Tanika Mays has been fighting the illness since Wednesday, yet she's still playing some of her best basketball of the season.

Mays followed up her 19-point, 11-rebound performance in the Rockets' Mid-American Conference opener Wednesday against Northern Illinois with another double-double yesterday afternoon.

The senior forward dropped in 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds - her fourth double-double of the season - in a 74-60 victory over Central Michigan in front of 3,394 at Savage Arena.

"I want to compliment Tanika," UT coach Tricia Cullop said in her postgame remarks. "Here's a kid that was sicker than a dog before Northern and still pushed through and had great numbers. And then tonight, she was still a little bit weak and not completely 100 percent, and you could just tell she wanted to win. They were times where it was very evident she was a little tired out there. But she really decided she was going to put the team on her back."

Mays scored 14 points in the first half to help the Rockets (12-3, 2-0) take a commanding 46-30 lead into intermission.

She finished 9-of-17 from the floor, was 4-of-5 at the free throw line, and had six offensive boards in 28 minutes.

"I don't come out with the intentions of 'this is what I'm going to do,'•" Mays said. "I just come out there and play and do what I need to do for my team."

Sophomore guard Clare Aubry scored eight of her 13 points after halftime to help UT keep the Chippewas (3-11, 0-2) at bay and also tied sophomore guard Courtney Ingersoll with a team-high four steals.

Junior forward Melissa Goodall teamed with Mays down low and finished with 10 points.

"We have a lot of great baseline players and post presence," Aubry said. "And when they keep scoring and rebounding, that opens up the outside. So I have to credit a lot of my shots to them and to everybody else's success."

In order to keep her players motivated, Cullop reminded them before the game that a late road loss to Central Michigan last season prevented them from earning a share of the MAC West Division title and that if they wanted to make up for that this year they would have to take care of business yesterday.

Shooting 42 percent (29-of-69) from the field while holding the Chippewas to a 14 percent (4-of-29) shooting effort from beyond the arc, it's clear the Rockets did just that en route to picking up their fourth straight victory and the ninth win in their last 10 games.

While UT did allow junior forward Kaihla Szunko to pour in 27 points and grab 14 rebounds, no other player for Central Michigan had much of an impact on the outcome of the game.

"Yeah, I'm upset about our [19] turnovers," Cullop said. "I'm upset that we allowed the middle of the zone to be so wide open that we gave Szunko so many easy shots. But in the same vein, there are so many positives that this team is doing. I don't want to let the negatives diminish the positives. This team is finding ways to win."

NOTES: UT freshman center and Start grad Yolanda Richardson returned to the floor after sitting out Wednesday's game due to an illness. She finished with six points, three rebounds, and three blocked shots in 11 minutes. ... The color analyst for yesterday's telecast on Fox Sports Network Ohio was Cheryl Reeve, the newly hired coach of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Reeve served as an assistant coach and general manager with the Detroit Shock last season.

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