OVERVIEW: The Rockets of coach Tricia Cullop enter this contest with a 12-2 overall record. UT saw its 11-game win streak snapped in its MAC opener, a 73-66 loss to Central Michigan at Savage Arena Thursday. Toledo’s only other loss was a three-point setback at nationally ranked Dayton early in the season. The Rockets already have three wins this season over teams in the top 100 in RPI: Santa Clara, Marquette and Charlotte.
BY THE NUMBERS: Toledo is third in the MAC in offense, scoring an average of 67.9 points per game, and is second in the league defensively, allowing 55.4 points per contest. The Rockets’ scoring margin of plus-12.6 points per game is second-best in the MAC, behind only Akron. … A few other stats of note for the Rockets: First, the team has a history of strong defense that continues this season. UT is third in the league in field-goal defense (opponents shoot just 36.5 percent) and is sixth in opponent’s 3-point shooting (29.7 percent) while leading the league in steals (11.1 per game). This year the Rockets also are very efficient offensively, making 42.0 percent of their shots (second in the MAC) and 33.2 percent of their 3’s (also second). ... Toledo ranks fifth in the MAC in rebounding, grabbing plus-1.4 more boards that the competition. But the Rockets make up for that by forcing 20.1 turnovers per game, tied for the most in the league, while turning the ball over just 14.7 times (best in the MAC). Their turnover margin of plus-5.43 is a whopping three points better than any other MAC team.
ALL-TIME SERIES: This is the 70th meeting in the series, and BG holds a 41-28 lead. Toledo has won the last two meetings, including a 52-50 win at Savage Arena on Feb. 11, 2012 and a 66-65 victory at Anderson Arena on Jan. 26, 2011.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Rockets are led by senior Naama Shafir, who ranks ninth in the MAC with her average of 12.7 points per game. She also stands second in the league in assists (5.4 apg), ninth in free-throw percentage (76.8 percent) and 15th in 3-point shooting (34.7 percent). Shafir also is second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.2 assists-per-turnover. … Junior Andola Dortch is second on the team in scoring (and ranks 17th in the MAC) at 10.6 points per game. She also is tied for fifth in assists (3.8 apg) and second in steals (2.7 spg) while ranking third in assist-to-turnover ratio at plus-1.5. … Senior Yolanda Richardson is third on the team (and tied for 20th in the league) with 9.9 points per game. She also ranks ninth in the MAC in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and tops the conference with her 59.1 percent shooting from the field. Richardson stands fifth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg). … Sophomore Inma Zanoguera also ranks among the MAC scoring leaders, currently tied for 25th at 9.1 points per game. She also is tied for 16th in rebounding (5.5 rpg), seventh in field-goal percentage (46.5 percent), tied for 10th in assists (2.9 apg) and steals (2.0 spg) and eighth in 3-point shooting (38.9 percent). … The fifth probable starter for the Rockets is senior Lecretia Smith, who averages 6.8 points per game. Smith is fourth in the MAC in field-goal percentage (50.0 percent). … … Senior Riley McCormick averages 3.8 points per game but is a very effective 3-point threat, ranking ninth in the MAC in 3-point shooting (38.5 percent).
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. The D is the key. If you look back at the Falcons’ win over nationally ranked Dayton, one number that sticks out is the fine job BG did in forcing the Flyers to miss shots, especially 3’s. UT shot just 23.5 percent behind the arc in the CMU loss, and the Falcons need to keep those numbers coming. 2. Take ‘em and make ‘em. Recently the Falcons have been shooting better from the field (43.6 percent mark in the Kent State win). It won’t be easy against the Toledo defense, but BG needs to keep making shots. 3. Use the home-court advantage as an advantage. A loud and raucous Stroh Center certainly won’t hurt the Falcons. That home crowd alone isn’t enough to beat the Rockets, but if it can apply pressure, it can help.GAME NOTES: Tipoff is at 2 p.m. … The game will be on the radio at 88.1 FM (BG broadcast) and 1230 AM (UT broadcast). … The game also will be televised by SportsTime Ohio. … The next game for the Falcons is on Wednesday, Jan. 16, when they host Ball State at the Stroh Center.