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Toledo Comes Up Short vs. Eastern Michigan in MAC Action, 70-66

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 01/11/2012
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Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Sophomore Janelle Reed-Lewis had a season-high nine points vs. Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.

TOLEDO, OH - Toledo saw its 17-game Mid-American Conference home win streak come to an end with a 70-66 loss to Eastern Michigan on Wednesday before 3,710 fans inside Savage Arena. With the setback, the Rockets fall to 8-7 overall, 1-2 in the league.

UT's last home conference loss was a 75-69 setback to Ball State on March 7, 2009.

Junior Yolanda Richardson and sophomore Andola Dortch led the Midnight Blue & Gold with 11 points each, while sophomore Brianna Jones contributed a season-high 10 points. The 2010-11 MAC regular-season champs also received a season-high nine points from sophomore Janelle Reed-Lewis and eight points from senior Courtney Ingersoll in a losing effort, snapping Toledo's three-game homecourt win streak against the Eagles (10-6, 2-1 MAC).

The Rockets shot a respectable 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field against an athletic EMU squad but were snakebitten by 19 turnovers. The Eagles took advantage of those miscues and translated them into 21 points.

MAC Player of the Year candidate Tavelyn James paced Eastern Michigan with 30 points, followed by Paige Redditt and Natachia Watkins with 13 points each.

The Eagles knocked down an impressive 50.0 percent (26-of-52) from the floor and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line. UT came into tonight's divisional matchup allowing its opponents to convert only 38.1 percent from the field and score 57.9 ppg, ranking fifth-best and second-best in the MAC, respectively.

The teams traded baskets for the opening five-plus minutes of the contest, before Eastern Michigan went on a 12-2 run to build a 24 -16 lead at 8:14. Four different players found the scoring column in the run, including four points from James and a three-point bomb from Taylor Bird.

EMU's James then simply took the rest of the first half over and scored 17 of her team's final 23 points to give the visitors a 47-33 advantage at the intermission. The two-time first-team All-MAC selection poured in 23 points in the opening stanza.

Toledo came out with a chip on their shoulders to begin the second half and used a 7-0 burst to close the margin to 47-40 with 17:36 remaining in regulation. Dortch started the run with a long triple, followed by layups from junior Lecretia Smith and Richardson to make it a three-possession difference.

EMU quickly countered with a pair of baskets, before Toledo stormed right back with a 10-0 run to make the score 51-50 at 13:43. Dortch actually had a chance to draw the teams even, but the 2010-11 MAC All-Freshman Team honoree split a pair of charity tosses to close out the run. Jones sparked the surge with five points to make it a one-point affair.

Eastern Michigan did not panic, though, and countered with an 11-0 run to push its lead back to double figures, 62-50, at the 7:31 mark. The big shot in the run was Bird's second triple of the contest with a UT player in her face, stopping the Rockets' momentum cold in its tracts. James also tallied a pair of baskets in the surge to build what would prove to be an insurmountable lead.

The Rockets made one final push and received back-to-back three-point field goals from Ingersoll, as well as one from junior Kyle Baumgartner to pull with two points, 66-64, at 1:52.

The Eagles misfired on their ensuing field-goal attempt, but EMU's Redditt came down with the offensive rebound and was fouled. The four-year letterwinner drained both free throws to increase the margin to four points, 68-64, at 1:20.

Like a heavyweight championship fight, Toledo responded one more time, as Dortch converted a layup with 35 seconds left.

UT was now forced to foul James, the MAC ‘s best free-throw shooter, with only a few precious seconds left to get the ball back. She split the two charity tosses, but Redditt came up big once again with the offensive board to seal the road victory.

The Rockets will now travel to DeKalb, IL to battle Northern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 1:00 p.m. (CT).

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