Tricia Cullop had a clear plan for her team’s final possession.
“A make,” University of Toledo’s coach said.
Andola Dortch, her point guard, cosigned.
“Score,” the senior said.
Simple requests, but on this day, unrealistic.
The Rockets clanked one shot attempt after the next on Sunday. Their 47th and final miss ensured a 60-59 home defeat to Western Michigan.
Ana Capotosto’s open 3-pointer at the end summarized Toledo’s seventh loss at Savage Arena, drawing back iron and disrupting a win streak that had grown to a season-high four. Much was at stake before a crowd in surplus of 4,000, as Toledo could have seized the inside track to the fourth seed and an automatic berth in the quarterfinals of next month’s Mid-American Conference tournament.
PHOTO GALLERY: UT women lose to WMU 60-59
“I’ll make no bones about it,” Cullop said to open her news conference. “This one hurts. It hurts because we had every opportunity in the world to win and we couldn’t make shots, couldn’t make free throws, couldn’t make 3s, couldn’t make pull-ups.”
Warning: Discretion advised when digesting these numbers. Cullop’s team shot 10 percent from outside (2 of 20) and 31 percent overall (22 of 69). The final element to the stat-sheet eye sore was a 13 of 22 effort from the free-throw line.
“That means tomorrow and the next day we have to get in the gym and shoot,” Dortch said. “That’s what it came down to toward the end.”
Almost six minutes in the first half bridged UT buckets by Dortch (18 points) and Elena de Alfredo. WMU, which didn’t execute a whole lot better, entered halftime with a narrow 36-32 edge.
The backcourt tandem of Dortch and Janelle Reed-Lewis went a combined 7 of 31 from the field, and outside threat Capotosto missed seven 3s.
The Rockets, who shoot 26 percent from outside, made their second 3 with 1:17 to go when Capotosto fired from the corner to close to 58-57. WMU’s Marquisha Harris banked in a field goal from the foul line at the other end.
Harris, a skilled forward, came off the bench for the second straight game and finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Her output covered for a subpar effort by Broncos standout Miracle Woods, who battled foul trouble to post 10 points and six boards. Northview graduate Jessica Jessing grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go with four points in 30 minutes.
Despite being outrebounded by 11, the Broncos (11-14, 7-7) swept Toledo for the first time since 2005-06.
A couple of missed free throws by WMU’s A.J. Johnson opened the door for Toledo to win at the end. Reed-Lewis missed under the basket and a video replay confirmed possession to Toledo. Cullop wanted Dortch to drive to the rim or get fouled, but WMU ignored Capotosto on the right shoulder, and Dortch found her.
“We got a good look, we got a great look,” Cullop said. “Nobody around her. Wide open.”