ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Women's Basketball was tripped up by a strong Toledo team on Sunday, falling by a final score of 52-33. The Bobcats were unable to capitalize on a strong defensive effort that forced 22 Toledo turnovers and didn't allow the Rockets to shoot a single free throw.
Freshman guard Mariah Byard (Mannington, W. Va.) led Ohio (9-11, 2-4 Mid-American Conference), scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and sophomore Shavon Robinson (Canton, Ohio) added eight points on 14 shots. Senior guard Tenishia Benson (Akron, Ohio) added a team-high eight rebounds and recorded four assists, which tied her season high. Benson's streak of 12 consecutive games of scoring ten points or more came to an end on Sunday.
Yolanda Richardson led the way for Toledo (11-7, 4-2 MAC), scoring a game-high 18 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Richardson also added a season-high six blocks. Other contributors for the Rockets included Inma Zangouera who scored a career-high 11 points.
The Bobcats played well on the defensive side of the ball, forcing Toledo into 22 turnovers including swiping 11 steals. Ohio also held Toledo to just 28.6 percent shooting from three-point range.
Toledo shot 41.8 percent from the field and held a 42-34 rebounding edge over the Bobcats.
The Rockets came out firing right from the start, hitting four of their first six shots, including three-pointers by Haylie Linn and Courtney Ingersoll, on their way to an early 10-0 lead. Ohio battled back by scoring six quick points of its own, keyed by junior forward Porsha Harris (Chicago, Ill.). The junior forward scored four of the Bobcats first six points in her first game action since an injury suffered Jan. 4.
Following another brief Toledo run, Byard answered by hitting Ohio's first triple of the day to cut the Rockets' advantage to seven points. The teams then went nearly four minutes without scoring before a Toledo layup and an Erin Bailes (Huntington, W.Va.) three-pointer pulled the `Cats within six.
Ohio faced a 20-13 deficit at the end of the first half. Harris led the Bobcats through the first 20 minutes, scoring four points. Byard and Bailes added three points each and Benson led Ohio in rebounding, hauling in five boards. On the defensive end, the Bobcats forced Toledo into committing 11 turnovers and held the Rockets to just 16.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc (2-of-12).
Ohio opened the second half striking first with a Robinson jump shot before Toledo went on a 6-0 run, extending its lead to 26-15 with 16:00 minutes remaining in the game. The teams traded a few baskets before the Rockets pieced together a 10-0 run to take a commanding 43-24 lead at the 4:45 mark.
The Bobcats continued to battle to the end, with Byard hitting two three-pointers and sophomore guard Olivia McCuskey (St. Albans, W.Va.) adding another just before the final buzzer sounded.
Ohio will next embark on a two-game road trip in Michigan, playing at Central Michigan (Jan. 25) and Western Michigan (Jan. 28). Wednesday's game against the Chippewas is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.