University of Toledo player Naama Shafir, 4, passes behind her back to a teammate against Ohio University.
The Blade/Andy Morrison
On a night in which her game was in prime condition, Naama Shafir’s memory was anything but.
Asked Thursday to recap the sequence in which she established a program assists record, the University of Toledo senior point guard could not muster much of a response.
“I don’t remember,” Shafir said following a 61-42 drubbing of Ohio at Savage Arena.
Fair enough, but how about that sweet no-look pass she dropped in the second half, that, if not for Mariah Carson being fouled, would have gone for a lay up. You remember that one, right?
“Um, which one was that?” Shafir responded.
If Shafir sounds ambivalent about her accomplishment, it’s because she is.
The fan favorite from Israel was unaware she was two assists shy of Dana Drew’s 18-year-old record until Shafir’s former teammate, Courtney Ingersoll, informed her before the game. Ingersoll, the recipient of many of Shafir’s 667 assists, analyzed the game for BCSN.
Shafir, who set the record with 11 minutes, 41 seconds to go on a corner 3-pointer by Andola Dortch, said she “kind of forgot about it” until her coaches congratulated her at the next stoppage of play.
“The record epitomizes who she is,” Rockets coach Tricia Cullop said. “One of the most selfless, humble players I’ve ever coached.”
Shafir finished with nine assists to go along with seven points, helping to deal Ohio (5-14, 0-7 Mid-American Conference) its seventh straight defeat. The 19-point difference does not accurately measure the gap between two teams at opposite ends of the league’s food chain. The Rockets, who posted their 21st straight home win over Ohio, led by 31 with about eight minutes to play.
Yolanda Richardson scored 15 points and was the only Toledo (18-2, 6-1) player to finish in eeeeeedouble digits. Twelve Rockets scored at least two points. Ohio’s two leading scorers, Kiyanna Black and Erin Bailes, were a combined 1 of 18 from the field.
By surpassing Drew — “I’m going to have to apolgize, I guess” — Shafir moves into fifth-place all-time in the MAC. She needs 21 more assists to climb another spot and tie Kate Achter, the Clay product who dished out 688 assists from 2005-08 at Bowling Green. Ohio’s Marti Heckman (1983-86) sits comfortably in the top position with 810.
“My teammates the past four-and-a-half years did a great job of making the shots,” said Shafir, who is averaging almost five assists a game this season. “They make it a lot easier on me.”
Shafir tied the mark three minutes into the game on a jumper at the top of the key by Brianna Jones.
Her niftiest past of the evening did not net an assist, but it’s worth mentioning anyhow. In transition, and with both hands clutching the ball, Shafir faked to Janelle Reed-Lewis on her right before dropping a no-look pass to Carson on her left. A crowd of 4,216 vociferously approved, just as they did earlier when the public address announcer informed them of Shafir’s accomplishment.
“Couldn’t be more happy for her and I’m even more pleased that it happened at home in front of our fans that did so much for our program,” Cullop said.
DORTCH IS FINE: Dortch was injured early in the second half when her knee bent backward as she scrambled on the floor for a loose ball. Cullop believes her starting guard is fine and did not summon her back into the game for precautionary reasons.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.