Toledo, OH — The Toledo Rockets started the season off on a high note as they faced Rhode Island in their home opener tonight, Nov. 15, in Savage Arena. The Rockets ousted the Rams by a final score of 65-50 to move to 2-0 on the year.
“I was very, very proud of the defensive intensity of our players, ” said Toledo Head Coach Tricia Cullop. “The nice thing about our defense is that it sparked easy opportunities on the offensive end — we were able to get some deflections and some steals and get out and run.”
The Rockets got off to a quick start as they took a seven-point lead before the Rams could even get on the board. Not long after, Rhode Island went on a scoring streak of their own, as junior guard Dominique Ward hit a clutch three-point shot to tie the game 7-7 with 3:45 left in the first.
It was the Rams who found the rim to begin the second quarter as sophomore Jalissa Ross heated things up with an easy bucket at the rim. However, it was the Rockets who pulled away with a 15-point lead to end the first half.
To open the third period, freshman Mariella Santucci came out hot with an immediate three-pointer to set the tone for Toledo. For Rhode Island, Ward hugged the three point line all night long as she tried to help the Rams get back within striking distance. She hit back-to-back three’s and trimmed the Rockets’ lead to six points.
It was an aggressive last few minutes as Toledo fought to maintain their lead after they went cold from the field and had four turnovers all within a four-minute span. Rhode Island had no answers as they went on a scoring drought themselves, hitting only one of their last five field goal attempts.
Toledo’s Santucci along with sophomore Mikaela Boyd worked together to lead the Rockets with a combined 28 points, including a career-high 15 points from Boyd, in addition to 10 of the team’s 15 assists on the night.
“My coach says to attack and just stay ready, because when an opportunity comes to score, you just have to take it,” Boyd said of her career-best performance. “I’m just trying to get to the basket, and when they collapse on me, then I just kick it out to someone for the shot.”
It was a combination of missed free throws and Toledo’s electric defense forcing 24 turnovers that hurt the Rams in the end, as Rhode Island was just 20% (4-20) from the line while Toledo shot 58.1% (18-31) from the charity stripe.