DEKALB, Ill. — The University of Toledo women’s basketball team escaped Northern Illinois with a 44-42 victory inside the Convocation Center on Saturday. The Rockets stopped the Huskies on their final two possessions and shot 6-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch, clinching their fifth straight victory and fourth straight over NIU.
The series between UT and NIU is known for being a struggle on the offensive end. Neither team has reached 50 points in four of the six previous matchups.
Both teams shot 37 percent from the field and exchanged the lead eight times. The Rockets (17-2, 5-1 MAC) were only 7-of-22 from the field in the second half and overcame a late 9-2 NIU run, holding the home team to three made field goals in the final seven minutes. UT forced a shot clock violation with 14 seconds left and didn’t allow NIU (5-14, 0-6 MAC) a shot attempt in the final eight seconds following an Andola Dortch free throw to seal the win.
Dortch was the only Rocket to score in double figures with a game-high 15 points on 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) shooting and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. She reached double digits for the fourth straight game and is averaging 15.8 points in that span.
Senior Yolanda Richardson and sophomore Inma Zanoguera were each close to recording double-doubles in the game. Richardson packed the stat sheet with nine points and game-high nine rebounds to go with a block, steal, and assist in 28 minutes on the floor.
Zanoguera added eight points, six boards, and two steals. She put the Rockets up for good with a reverse scoop layup in the final minute. That basket came right after NIU stole the lead by drilling a 3 with 1:54 left, which happened to be the last time the Huskies would score.
Toledo’s leading scorer, Naama Shafir, was held to a season-low two points (1-of-6 FG) while battling foul trouble. Shafir picked up two fouls early on but was able to play 32 minutes. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but Shafir was clutch on the defensive end. The fifth-year senior took four charges, including a play where she raced ahead of NIU’s Amanda Corral on a fast break and planted herself, taking the charge to preserve a one-point lead with three fouls and 12:31 left in the game.
Shafir also dished out three assists to bring her career total to 658, which is one shy of the UT career record held by Dana Drew (’95).