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.
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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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