The University of Toledo women’s basketball team saw a 17-point third-quarter lead disappear in a 80-76 overtime loss to Kent State in the first round of the MAC tournament Monday night at Savage Arena.
The Rockets took a 53-36 lead with 2 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter, but Kent State completed a furious comeback as Megan Carter hit two clutch free throws with three seconds left to tie the game at 74 and force overtime.
“Kent State had the momentum going into the overtime and they played really well,” UT coach Tricia Cullop said. “We didn’t get the stops we wanted to. We didn’t box out and we didn’t finish. We had some good looks.
“This one hurts, and I don’t know what our future holds. Unfortunately, we left it up to other people. If this is our last game this year, I’m proud of this group.”
In overtime, Toledo’s Jada Woody made a layup that tied the game at 76 with 1:06 left. Carter then hit 1-of-2 from the foul line with 48 seconds left to give Kent State a 77-76 lead.
Sara Rokkanen then missed a 3-pointer, and Jordan Korinek added two free throws to extend the Golden Flashes’ lead to 79-76 with 13 seconds left.
With Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott fouled out, Toledo drew up a play for Mariella Santucci. Her 3 missed long and Alexa Golden made 1-of-2 free throws after grabbing the rebound for the final margin.
Kaayla McIntyre led Toledo (17-14) with 18 points, Mikaela Boyd and Santucci scored 14 points each, and Bravo-Harriott had 11.
Carter paced Kent State (13-18) with 24 points, Korinek added 21 points, and Naddiyah Cross had 20.
Bravo-Harriott, a senior, fouled out with 3:44 left in the fourth after she was called for an offensive foul in the backcourt.
“This was about as tough as they get,” Cullop said. “I thought we got off to a great start in the second half and things were going our way until we got in foul trouble. When Kaayla and Jay-Ann got in foul trouble, we had to sit them for a little bit, and then it got interesting.
“I’m really sad about Jay-Ann’s fifth foul. I really thought all she was doing was dribbling up the floor trying to protect the ball while she actually was fouled. I feel horrible for her that that is how she fouled out of her career. She was playing well and giving us a lot and it’s just unfortunate.”
In the fourth, Toledo led 70-67 with 42 seconds left after Santucci calmly sank two free throws. Korinek answered on Kent State’s next possession with a 3 that tied the game at 70 with 27 seconds left.
Then Boyd dribbled down the clock and made a tough drive to the basket and finished a layup to give Toledo a 72-70 edge with four seconds left.
Kent State called timeout to advance the ball to midcourt. On the inbounds pass, Carter streaked to the basket, caught the ball, and was fouled going up for the layup. She then sank two free throws and Boyd missed a half-court heave at the buzzer to set up the overtime.
“We fought until the end and the fact that the outcome didn’t come out our way just really hurts because we have our great seniors and we wanted to do it for them,” Boyd said. “We left it up to the referees and we shouldn’t have done that. We should of done more and the outcome might have gone our way.”
Toledo and Kent State were tied at 16 after the first quarter and then Toledo trailed 21-18 after a Carter jumper with 8:22 left in the second quarter.
Toledo answered with an 18-2 run in the next 5:20 of game time, capped off by an Olivia Cunningham 3 that gave the Rockets a 36-23 lead with 2:37 left in the quarter. During the run, Kent State went scoreless for more than four minutes.
The Rockets then took a 36-26 lead into halftime.
Carter hit a running 3 at the third-quarter buzzer to cut Toledo’s lead to 55-47, then Kent State outscored the Rockets 25-17 in the fourth.
“They came out with a lot of energy and they hit us and we didn’t respond well,” Boyd said. “We put them on the foul line and they got their energy from that. We should have responded better and buckled down and defended better.”
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.