The Rockets had been in this situation before, and to a much longer and more notable extent.
So when Naama Shafir sat out the second half of the Rockets’ 59-43 win Saturday over SIU-Edwardsville in the Glass City Tournament at Savage Arena, Toledo’s guards along with coach Tricia Cullop saw the situation not as a setback but as part of a maturation process.
Shafir injured her ankle late in the first half, and guards Riley McCormick and Andola Dortch stepped in at the perimeter, in a game in which Toledo (5-1) led by as many as 35 points in the first half. McCormick, Dortch, and guard Janelle Reed-Lewis and forward/guard Inma Zanoguera accounted for 35 points, but McCormick still saw room for growth among Toledo’s guards.
“We could have come out with more intensity in the second half,” said McCormick, one of three players to score nine points for Toledo.
“Naama rolled her ankle so we have to pick up the the slack. But us, as guards, we have to have better shot preparation and we have to execute the offense better.
“I don’t think, as a team, we’re 100 percent satisfied.”
McCormick didn’t panic over Shafir’s absence.
“Naama's a strong kid, she'll be fine,” she said of Shafir, who led the Rockets with 12 points despite not playing in the second half. “I'm not worried."
Cullop said Shafir did not play in the second half as a precautionary measure.
“But it was a great opportunity for the rest of our bench to get some experience, to get some minutes and to put them in different situations.”
Toledo faces St. Bonaventure at 2:30 p.m. today at Savage Arena in the final game of the Glass City Tournament.
Boosted by a combination of rebounding and poor shooting by SIU-Edwardsville, Toledo went on a 29-1 run in a stretch that spanned more than nine minutes of the first half.
The Rockets also capitalized on turnovers to extend its lead to 33-6, before SIU-Edwardsville called a 30-second timeout with 7:55 left in the first half.
The Cougars (3-4) went without a successful shot from the floor for more than 12 minutes — Kiara Connor’s layup with 4:57 left in the first was SIU-Edwardsville’s first field goal since Raven Berry’s shot less than three minutes into the game, and Toledo took a 41-16 lead at halftime.
“Executing on offense, boxing out on rebounding and getting out on the run,” Dortch said, when asked what were keys for the Rockets in the first half. “It’s what we know how to do.”
ST. BONAVENTURE 56, SOUTHERN 36
Alaina Walker scored 15 points and Ashley Zahn added 11 points as St. Bonaventure (4-3) snapped a four-game losing streak in the opening game of the Glass City Tournament.
Adrian Sanders led Southern (0-6) with 10 points. Southern will face SIU-Edwardsville at noon today at Savage Arena.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.