“I just wish we’d shoot it better and stop breaking offensive rebound records,” Tricia Cullop said, somewhat facetiously. “We can solve everything by making baskets.”
The Rockets had troubles putting the ball through the net, but other areas of their game — namely defense and rebounding — existed in a 59-44 win over a feisty Buffalo team that threatened to make a game of it even after losing one of its best players to injury in the first half.
Toledo, which won for the 14th time in 15 games, pulled down 23 offensive rebounds — five more than its previous best and one more than its defensive total — and extended several second-half possessions. In one five-minute stretch the Rockets managed to corral seven boards after their own miss. The score didn’t change much — Toledo was just 1 of 7 from the field on its second opportunities and saw its lead actually dwindle from seven to five — but the ability to keep the ball out of Buffalo’s hands was pivotal on a day when both teams shot 32 percent.
Jones, who hit from 12 to 15 feet on two of her four field goals, bumped the lead to 10 on a three-point play with 5 minutes, 32 seconds to go. Andola Dortch led the Rockets (15-2, 3-1) with 20 points, marking the second time this season and seventh in her career she reached that number.
Kristen Sharkey posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to spearhead a Buffalo (5-12, 3-1) team that lost its second leading scorer, Rachael eeeeeeeGregory, with five minutes to go in the first half. Gregory, who was averaging 11.1 points, folded to the floor and screamed after trying to split two Rocket defenders. A Bulls assistant coach could confirm only that Gregory injured her left knee.
“I don’t know exactly what happened to her, but I know how that feels,” said Dortch, who has torn the ACL in both of her knees.
The biggest shot came with 26 seconds to go in the first half when Inma Zanoguera buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Aware of Buffalo flooding the baseline and sending two defenders into the post, Cullop said she “switched someone up there that could knock it down.”
The Rockets, who took the lead at 28-26, never trailed again.
“That gave us a little momentum, but we still had a lot to talk about at halftime,” Cullop said.
“Sometimes it takes a while to heal and unfortunately hers is taking a while, so I doubt you’ll see her return this season,” Cullop said.
Sophomore forward Taylor Carver (pulled muscle) missed her fourth game in a row.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.