In a battle between Mid-American Conference (MAC) titans, the Miami University women’s basketball team (15-5, 5-2 MAC) was unable to overcome a University of Toledo team that caught fire in the second half, falling to the Rockets (12-7, 5-2 MAC) by a score of 79-66.
Senior guard Maggie Boyer led the RedHawks with 20 points but the turning point in the game came in the second half when Toledo simply could not miss. The Rockets were en fuego as they shot 69 percent from the floor and outscored the ‘Hawks 51-37 in the second half alone.
“This was one of the top teams in the MAC and we had to play them on the road,” Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “It’s one of those games where you have to learn things the hard way.”
From the way the game started, it appeared that Miami was on their way to another MAC victory. Boyer had 12 points in the first six minutes of the game as Miami sprinted out to a 16-3 lead.
Things were not so easy from that point on as Toledo quickly answered with a 10-0 run. The RedHawks were unable to pull away again and headed into the locker room at halftime leading by the slimmest of margins, 29-28.
Early in the second half, Toledo seized its first lead of the game, and with 17:21 still remaining, the ‘Hawks found themselves down 37-31. After shrinking the lead down to five off a jumper by sophomore guard Hannah Robertson, the RedHawks found themselves on the wrong end of a 16-2 run that made the score 60-41 with nine minutes remaining.
“Our defense was spotty at times and they took advantage of it,” Fantanarosa said. “For us to gain things from this experience, we need to stay confident on offense and we need to stay aggressive on defense.”
The RedHawks never gave up as they were able to trade baskets and even outscored Toledo 25-19 in the last 10 minutes. In front of a hostile crowd, the ‘Hawks were able to keep their composure but fell for the second time in their last three games.
In addition to Boyer’s 20 points, junior guard Courtney Osborn poured in 17 and picked up five steals while playing the full 40 minutes. Senior forward Kirsten Olowinski added 10 points and nearly had another double-double with seven rebounds.
“This isn’t exactly easy to take in but at the same time I think it will help us,” Olowinski said. “We’re comfortable knowing that we have to step things up as we go forward.”
The difference in the game stemmed from fundamentals, an area the RedHawks usually dominate. They lost the battle on the boards 39-33 and were outscored in the paint 38-24. In another uncharacteristic move, they had 16 turnovers, which came back to hurt them.
But don’t expect the RedHawks to hang their heads for too long following this loss.
“It’s a good learning experience; we’re going to grow and we’re going to respond from it,” Fantanarosa said. “But this isn’t the end; it’s just one game.”
Even with the loss, Miami’s record at this point in the season is one of the best starts in the program’s 37 years. Only the 1989-1990 team, which started 16-4, had a better record in the first 20 games.
The RedHawks must regroup as they return to Millett Hall Saturday to face the Cardinals of Ball State University. Tip-off is set for noon and the game can be seen on STO as well as on ESPN3.