CLEVELAND (AP)Quinesha Lockett scored 17 points, Jessica Cook had 16 and Toledo led wire-to-wire to capture its ninth NCAA Tournament berth with a 73-58 win over rival Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Saturday.
The Rockets (28-4) scored the first 12 points of the game and pulled away in the fourth quarter to secure their first trip to the NCAAs since 2017 and match the 2000-01 team’s school-record 16-game winning streak.
The second-seeded Falcons and top-seeded Rockets split their Battle of I-75 during the regular season but Bowling Green was 3-0 in MAC title game matchups between the rivals and 11-3 overall.
“It’s tough,” Toledo coach Tricia Cullop said. “They’re very, very good, they’re very well-coached and they’re very aggressive defensively. We knew if we could just take care of the basketball (we would be fine). I was so proud of the shots we hit. Sometimes late clock we found a way and Quinesha Lockett was at her best today.”
In the middle of the fourth quarter Lockett, the MAC Player of the Year, had seven points in a 9-0 run with her 3-pointer making it 65-45 with four minutes remaining. The tournament MVP also had five rebounds and six assists.
Nan Garcia and Jayda Jansen both added 11 points for Toledo and Sammi Mikonowicz had 16 rebounds to go with her eight points. The Rockets had a 43-29 rebounding advantage.
Allison Day led the Falcons (27-6), who last went to the NCAA tourney in 2011, with 18 points, Jocelyn Tate had 13 and Elissa Brett 10.
Mikonowicz hit a 3-pointer for Toledo to open the scoring and Lockett hit one at the 7:16 mark to give the Rockets a 12-0 lead. Bowling Green missed its first five shots and had two turnovers.
The Falcons trailed by as many as 15 in the first quarter but chipped away and trailed 23-12 after one quarter and 33-26 at the half.
Brett made two free throws after a flagrant foul with 3:16 to go in the third quarter to cut it to a five-point game, 44-39, but the Falcons couldn’t convert on the ensuing possession. Toledo led 48-41 heading into the fourth quarter and scored the first six points of the fourth to regain control.
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