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Published: Friday, 1/24/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Capotosto shoots high, helps Rockets roll to victory

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The trajectory of Ana Capotosto’s shot resembles a rainbow.

In its high-arching rise to the basket, not in its beauty.

“It does look funky,” said University of Toledo teammate Inma Zanoguera.

That’s one way to describe it. Here’s another: Effective.

Any creatures nesting in the rafters at Savage Arena best beware of daggers flying off the fingers of Toledo’s sophomore launcher.

Mid-American Conference opponents should also be on alert, as Capotosto is knocking down 3-pointers at an impressive clip these days. The league’s fourth-most accurate shooter from outside made four of them Thursday — matching her career high from five days earlier — to headline a 73-61 thumping of a good Ball State team.

The left-hander from Saugatuck, Mich., is 10 of 20 from deep the last three games, a sign of consistency coach Tricia Cullop hopes will rub off on the team’s streakier shooters.

“At times she shoots it a little too high, but if she’s going to make that many 3s, I think I’m going to leave her alone,” she said. “I’ll worry about the kids that are going 1 for 6.”

The win arguably is Toledo’s finest of the season, equipped with wire-to-wire dominance of a supposed league title contender. The Cardinals (8-9, 3-3 MAC) returned most of their valuable parts from last year, when they pulled off a stunner in attaining the No. 2 seed at the MAC tournament.

There was a sense BSU’s talented guards, led by 2012-13 MAC freshman of the year Nathalie Fontaine, would push the Rockets into an abyss deeper than the one in which they had fallen with two straight losses. Instead Cullop’s team dominated the glass, won 50-50 plays, and — with Capotosto taking the lead — made shots to avert runs by BSU.

“You can count to five before it comes down,” Cullop quipped.

Even though two of her teammates had more points, Capotosto (14 point) was named player of the game. She drained two 3s in the first half to help build a 35-21 edge at the break. She made another from the top of the key 90 seconds into the second half, pushing the lead to 15. It was a welcoming counterpunch to BSU making its first two shots of the half.

Zanoguera, who assisted on the basket, said, “It’s a pleasure to pass her the ball because I know it’s going in.”

Capotosto was 4 of 8 from 3-point range, upping her season average to 45 percent.

Zanoguera played a solid game all around, totaling 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. She was on the court for all but one minute.

Andola Dortch was just 4 of 14 from the field but made 7 of 8 attempts at the free-throw line for 15 points. Toledo shot 81 percent from the line (17 of 21), an appreciable upgrade from its 68 percent season average.

Zanoguera hit two foul shots for a 55-39 lead after BSU coach Brady Sallee incurred a technical foul.

Fontaine’s 17 points led Ball State, which had just four bench points.

The Rockets (8-9, 3-3) snared 19 offensive rebounds and received 16 bench points after getting six combined in road losses at Buffalo and Western Michigan.

“We haven’t come up short the last couple of games for lack of effort,” Cullop said. “We’ve come up short because of missed shots. I’m so proud of the fact we found confidence again.”

Capotosto’s last 3 widened the lead to 49-32 with 10 minutes, 10 seconds left. BSU went on a miniature run to close to within eight at the two-minute mark but the Cardinals never got closer.

With the win, a trend continues. Toledo is undefeated at home in MAC play and winless on the road, a disparity fitting of a young team whose entire bench is comprised of freshmen. A win Sunday on the road against an improved Ohio team would alter the current sails.

“We have some momentum rolling and we can use that going into this weekend,” Capotosto said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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