One team will earn a key Mid-American Conference victory when the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University renew their women’s basketball rivalry Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at BGSU’s Stroh Center.
Each team enters on a two-game losing skid and will want to right the ship against its I-75 foe. Toledo has won seven of eight in the series, including four in a row at the Stroh Center, but the Falcons own a 42-34 all-time edge in the series.
For those who can’t make it, the game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard on 1230 AM (Toledo broadcast) and 88.1 FM (Bowling Green broadcast).
A breakdown of how each team has gotten to this point in its season follows.
Toledo Rockets (13-7, 4-4 MAC)
Weigh-in (Where the team stands): It’s been an up-and-down season so far for the defending MAC champions. Sitting at 4-4 in the MAC is disappointing for a team that returned almost every piece from last year’s NCAA tournament team. There have been big wins (Ball State) and puzzling losses (Kent State at home). The Rockets have lost two straight games and just saw their 15-game home win streak snapped Wednesday by Kent State.
Haymakers (Team strength): Toledo’s main strength has been its ability to pressure opposing teams on defense. There have been a few games that the Rockets have won by making key defensive stops late in the game (Northern Illinois and Ball State). Toledo is fourth in the MAC in scoring defense, allowing 64.7 points per game.
On the ropes (Team weakness): The 3-point shooting has been an ongoing struggle this season for Toledo. The Rockets simply do not have confidence in their outside shooting at the moment, and Toledo is 10th in the MAC in 3-point percentage at 28.5 percent. The Rockets have capable shooters, but right now they are in a collective funk.
Sting like a bee (Player who packs a punch): Mikaela Boyd has been Toledo’s best player lately. Boyd is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.5 points per game. Only Kaayla McIntyre scores more for Toledo. But Boyd pulls down 8.1 rebounds a game from the guard position, which is actually tied for the team lead with McIntyre. Boyd also leads the Rockets with 4.2 assists per game, and her overall versatility and effort have sparked Toledo the past few games.
Corner woman (Spark off the bench): Olivia Cunningham is Toledo’s top scorer off the bench at 7.2 points per game in 18.4 minutes per game. Cunningham has missed the past two games with a knee injury, but UT coach Tricia Cullop said she is hopeful that Cunningham will play against Bowling Green on Saturday. Cunningham can provide instant offense off the bench, which has made her extremely valuable.
Off the canvas (Biggest comeback): Toledo trailed Maine 52-42 with just 4:44 remaining during a Nov. 30 contest at Savage Arena. The Rockets worked all the way back and forced overtime when Mikaela Boyd made a layup with two seconds remaining. Toledo then outscored the Black Bears 11-10 in overtime and escaped with a 65-64 win to make its record 5-1 at the time.
Bowling Green Falcons (10-9, 2-6 MAC)
Weigh-in (Where the team stands): The Falcons enter this tussle with a 10-9 overall record thanks to a two-game losing streak. This contest has extra importance since BG’s 2-6 MAC marks drops it a game behind both Miami and Kent State in the race for a first-round home game in the league tournament. And added weight comes from this being the only contest against a Toledo team that is two games ahead of BG in the standings.
Haymakers (Team strength): The Falcons offense is at its best when players are driving to the basket to create layups or draw fouls. Bowling Green ranks fourth in the MAC in free-throw percentage at 72.4 percent, and its 257 free throws made is more than all but four schools. What’s more, BG draws 21.3 percent of its points from free throws; the only other MAC team above 20 percent is Kent State at 25.8 percent.
On the ropes (Team weakness): When the Falcons are struggling to get to the foul line or to make shots from behind the 3-point arc, the offense bogs down. BG ranks last in the MAC in field-goal shooting (36.4 percent) and assists (9.6 per game), two reasons the team averages a league-worst 63.4 points per game.
Sting like a bee (Player who packs a punch): Junior Carly Santoro has posted 10 double-doubles this season, including three in MAC play. She ranks among the MAC leaders in scoring (13.4 points per game) and rebounding (9.5 per game) and also leads the Falcons in steals (1.7) while ranking second in assists (2.4). If BG kept track of the number of boxes of popcorn players sold per game, Santoro would probably lead the team in that category as well.
Corner woman (Spark off the bench): Sophomore Caterrion Thompson is a spark for the Falcons offense when she enters games, as she averages 5.5 points per contest, including 8.3 in league action. Thompson is especially dangerous behind the 3-point arc as her 45.1 percent accuracy on 3s is second-best in the MAC. She made five 3-pointers against Eastern Michigan and six in the home game versus Ball State.
Off the canvas (Biggest comeback): Bowling Green saw a big first-half lead disappear at Akron on Jan. 13, and the Falcons trailed by seven points with less than three minutes to play. But it was BG that delivered the knockout punch as Haley Puk’s 3 with 19.9 seconds left was the key basket in a 66-64 victory over the Zips.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.